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Tour de France Post-mortem – Youth reigns supreme

The Tour de France is over for another year, and although it was slightly later than expected this year, the shocks still came from all over the field of riders. We explore the winners, losers, surprises and Upsets of Le Tour.

Winners

The Tour produces winners across 6 categories General Classification (GC), Points, King of the Mountains (KOM), Young Rider, Combativity and Team. Every year different people win these awards; however, the race produces its fair share of winners in different ways to the standard awards.

Big Winner

Tadej Pogacar – Welcome to the big time Tadej Pogacar. Okay so right away while I understand he won the GC, KOM and the Young Rider award, he also announced himself on the major stage. Throughout the weeks Pogacar looked fantastic, the only time he seemed to lose time was more down to his inexperience in the crosswinds. He arrived with a somewhat weaker team compared to his GC competitors, however showed very quickly he did not need anybody but himself and the occasional boost of David de la Cruz.

Image credit – Reuters/Pool/M. Bertorello

His form improved it seemed with everyday that went by and when most riders are isolated away from their teammates they crumble, Pogacar thrived. He rode an excellent tour, mature and measured and struck at the last possible moment, completing re-writing the time trial book and beating his biggest rivals at their own game. Truly excellent.

Honourable Mentions

Sam Bennett – The first man to beat Peter Sagan to the points jersey (excluding his disqualification in 2017) did not just beat him, he played him at his own game. Sam Bennett won it by nearly 100 points, doing to Peter Sagan what he had always done to his opponents, he dominated him.

Wout Van Aert – Anything you can do, I can do better. This season he has won a monument, he has won and classic, he had out sprinted the sprinters to wins stages at the Tour de France and he has outclimbed some of the best climbers in the world in aid of his team leader. Wout Van Aert is here to stay.

Richie Porte – A quiet Tour for Porte lands him on the winners list. Richie Porte was racing in what most believe to be his final chance at Grand Tour leadership, especially with his impending move to INEOS Grenadiers. He finally managed to get himself on the famous podium in 3rd place after years of being the unluckiest man on the road.

Marc Hirschi – The young hero in any of addition of the Tour. Hirschi showed an ability to do everything. Won a stage, got involved in breakaways, featured in bunch sprints, and descended with incredible speed. He also proved he can climb with the best, which showed everyone he is not just here to stages, he will be back with his eyes on the big prize.

Losers

Whenever you are competing there are always winners which means that there must be losers. Technically everyone who does not win a jersey is therefore surely a loser, however most come to the race knowing they do not have a chance as any team needs a support rider. This list is riders who had real intentions for some serious competition, but for one reason or another it just was not their Tour.

Big Loser

Egen Bernal – The defending champion must feature as the biggest loser of this years Tour in part for his attempted defence. With quite a lot of early crashes the peloton were carrying collective injuries. Bernal seemed to never truly be on the pace of a defending champion.

Image Credit – SuperSport

He had a strong team around him, including defending Grio D’Italia champion Richard Carapaz and Grand Tour main stay Michal Kwiatkowski at his disposal. Despite this, Bernal just did not have the legs to compete. Having won last years tour on a technicality as the Tour was suspended mid stage for a landslide, fans may now question his credentials as a leader. To add to that due in part to injuries and in part to his falling prospects in the GC, Bernal did not get to Paris, abandoning the race. His Tour defence in tatters and his leadership in question, this race could not have gone much worse.

Dishonourable Mentions

Peter Sagan

For the first time since his debut on the Tour (excluding his 2017 disqualification) Peter Sagan did not finish the tour in Green. Not only did he lose the jersey, he lost it by nearly 100 points which is what he usually does to the other riders. He was dominated at nearly every turn by Bennett and did not look like a stage winner in any of the sprints.

John Degenkolb

This one is a little harsh but is a disappointment by his own admission. Degenkolb missed the time limit of stage 1 meaning he was eliminated before the race even got started. This was due to a crash on the stage, and for a man who is always in the sprints, this had to be seen as nothing short of a huge loss for him

Nairo Quintana

The Colombian climbers time in the spotlight is over and this was abundantly clear by the end of this years addition of the Tour. Colombia is known for its climbers and with the likes of Egan Bernal, Rigoberto Uran, Miguel Angel Lopez not to mention Sergio Higuita the sprinting star, Quintana is becoming an afterthought. Couple this with him consistently being dropped on climbs and a potential doping infringement coming after the Tour was over Quintana is all but done.

Julian Alaphilippe

Nothing but a podium would have satisfied Alaphilippe. After holding the Mallot Jaune for 14 of the 21 stages in the 2019 edition of Le Tour, Alaphilippe came into to this years tour as a serious favourite. He started strong too, looking ready to pick up where he left of last year, then it all fell apart. He was off the pace so significantly that he was allowed into breakaways. France continues to wait for that winner.

Undrafted Awards

The tour gives out awards in its categories, here at undrafted we decided to give out some of our own awards too. Now the jerseys have already been given out and so we felt sometimes the Tour misses some deserving recipients for awards.

Tete de la Breakaway

This award is given to the man who did the most damage from breakaways, placing highest and winning from breakaway positions. Holding off the surging peloton and launching for the final climbs with precision.

Winner – Leonard Kamna

Attack the Peloton

This award is for the man who made the most devastating attacks of a prone peloton, both times he did this to the best affect, he won both stages and was within the last 20km both times. Without fear he told the peloton to bring it on, and they could not respond.

Winner – Soren Kragh Anderson

Team of the Tour

This team were completely dominant from start to finish of the 2020 edition of the Tour and although it did not result in a win in the GC, outside of the ride of a certain rider career (more on that later) they were more dominant than any team in the tours history.

Winner – Team Jumbo-Visma

Ride of the Tour

This ride is quite possibly the greatest individual ride in Tour de France history. Going into the stage, this rider had a gap 57” seconds to make up. This seemed impossible, especially as he was surrounded by specialists. Not only did he overturn the gap but ended up creating his own gap of 59” seconds over his nearest competition.

Winner – Tadej Pogacar – Stage 20 – Individual Time Trial

The Tour de France as per usual was magical and even in these testing times really brought the action to our screens. Now that the teams and the riders take stock of all that has happened, we look ahead to next year and put forward some bold predictions for the 2021 Tour de France.

The Grand Predictions

Sagan Green with Envy and Envy only

Peter Sagan has redefined the points competition at the Tour de France, however time in Green is over. Watching this year’s competition proved the whispered theory entering this years Tour. Peter Sagan is no longer the king of the Green jersey and he will not win another points jersey at the Tour de France.

The sound of the changing of the guard

The old guard, especially where the Tour is concerned is done, and the change was present last year, and brutally clear this year. Riders like Pogacar, Bernal, Hirschi among others have proven that they have what it takes, and the old guard are done. Next years top three and GC podium will all be under 30 years old.

Rise of the Hybrid Sprinter

Another trend started by Peter Sagan that is passing him by is the rise of the hybrid sprinter. Sagan was a sprinter who could climb, someone who was a factor in the bunch sprint but could still win on a false flat. Wout Van Aert however has taken on this idea and is redefining it. He proved on multiple occasions he can mix it up with the world’s best sprinters, and took his leader up the mountain passes, regularly putting GC contenders into difficulty with his relentless pace. He is a climber who can sprint, if given the opportunity, Van Aert will win the Green Jersey.

The French drought continues

Something that has become a repeated fixture in recent years is the French challenge for a Tour de France winner falling apart when the race starts to get hard. Julien Alaphilippe, Thibault Pinot and Romain Bardet have all come to the forefront in recent years, spending time in Yellow and standing on the podium in Paris, respectively. They have not been able to make the jump to winner, this is a problem that will continue. Next years tour will again not have a top 5 rider from France in the GC.

Visma with a Jumbo Crisis

After watching Primoz Roglic dominate the Tour de France this year with Team Jumbo Visma and still not manage to win the tour, the question is, does he get another chance to lead. Roglic will be 31 by the next tour, with a Grand Tour winner alongside him in Tom Dumoulin, excellent climbers in George Bennett and Sepp Kuss, without even mentioning the breakout of Wout Van Aert. He might get one more shot, however with the spectacular way in which he lost the Tour the team might look elsewhere. Team Jumbo Visma will attend next years Tour with a new leader look for it to be either Sepp Kuss or Wout Van Aert.

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