The 108th version of the Tour de France (TDF) is now in the history books and as usual, it was filled with memorable moments. Whether you root for the overall winner of the Yellow jersey, winners of the other specialty jerseys, such as the White, Green, or Polka Dot, riders of a particular nationality, such as Americans, Columbians, Slovenians, or French, or the records broken, such as the number of stage wins, there was plenty to keep us interested this year in the world’s greatest cycling event.
Victory for Tadej Pogacar
The 24 year old Slovenian rider, Tadej Pogacar, won by a relatively wide margin of over 5 minutes. In past years the margin between first and second place has been a matter of seconds, so this wide lead demonstrates his dominance of the race. He grabbed the lead in Stage 8 and kept it until the end, earning the top podium position again. He won 3 stages in this year’s TDF and this is his second overall Tour de France win. He is a well rounded cyclist, able to sprint, climb mountains, and time trial, which are the skills needed to win the entire race. His dominant performance included sprinting to win stages in the mountains even when it was not necessary to maintain his lead. He is described as mature, the new Cannibal, and a powerhouse and is predicted to be a strong competitor in professional racing for years to come.
A Miss for Mark Cavendish
With the overall victor of the TDF predicted since Stage 5, the only outcome we cared about was that of Mark Cavendish. As the story goes, Cavendish retired from professional cycling, was a last-minute addition to the Deceuninck-QuickStep team and ended up winning 4 stages this year at age 34 tying the record of Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins in the Tour de France. We wanted to be a witness as he made history and win the final sprint in Paris to beat the current record, not just tie it, but the peloton was not going to give him anything without a fight and he was bested by Wout Van Aert, from Belgium. Was it a coincidence or just karma that Eddy Merckx, the current record holder is also from Belgium? During Stage 21 many commentators confessed they were excited and nervous for Cavendish and could only imagine the pressure he and his team were under, but at the conclusion of the stage when it was clear that Cavendish did not win and thus did not break the record, it was noticeably quiet. Regarding the future, in the words of Cavendish, “Let’s see what happens.”
White, Green, and Polka Dot Jersey Winners
The popular Yellow Jersey is awarded to the overall race leader but there are other jerseys awarded as follows:
An American Rises
On Stage 15 American cyclist Sepp Kuss became the first American to win a stage since 2011 and only the 10th American to ever win a stage in the TDF. There were two other Americans riding this year, Neilson Powless on the EF Education-Nippo team in his second TDF and Brandon McNulty on the UAE Team Emirates team in his first Tour but they were both relatively quiet, doing their jobs and not standing out. We’d like to see more Americans compete but professional cycling in North America just does not have the allure that it has in other countries. Champions appear to come in waves with the younger generation following in the footsteps, or in this case, wheels, of their idols.
The French have a similar issue—with the event taking place on their home turf, and the strong racing culture, you would think there would be more riders winning stages, but outside of Julian Alaphilippe, from the Denceuninck-Quick-Step team, there were few country men for the French to root for.
Heard on the TV
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