Tour de France: Pogacar crowned as Cavendish misses out on beating Merckx record

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

Tadej Pogacar clinched a second successive Tour de France general classification title as Mark Cavendish narrowly missed out on a record-breaking 35th stage win.

It was a racing certainty that Pogacar would be crowned on the Champs Elysees on Sunday after dominating the 21-stage tour, having secured top spot on Saturday ahead of the largely processional finale in Paris.

Cavendish made sure of the green jersey as the tour's top sprinter, but hopes of a 35th stage win were dashed when Wout van Aert snatched glory in the French capital.

Cavendish had powered from 30 stage wins at the start of the 2021 Tour to 34 during the course of the past three weeks, matching Eddie Merckx's long-standing record, but the Manxman could not nose ahead of Van Aert in a frantic finish.

Van Aert's success means his Belgian compatriot Merckx continues to hold a share of that stage-win record, and it raises the question of whether Cavendish will return in 2022 in an effort to take sole ownership.

The sprint was suitably phenomenal, with Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert keeping enough in reserve to get ahead of countryman Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), who took second, and third-placed Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

It means Van Aert became the first Tour rider since 1979 to win a sprint, a mountain stage and an individual time trial in the same edition of the race.

The time-trial success came on Saturday, and it was remarkable he had so much left in the tank 24 hours later.

Van Aert said on Eurosport: "This tour has just been amazing. It's been such a roller coaster, but to finish with a weekend like this is beyond expectations."

His next target will be an Olympic gold, with Van Aert revealing he was due to travel from Paris to Tokyo later on Sunday.

He realised after sealing victory that he would be a man in demand over the coming hours.

"I guess I put myself in trouble because I have to take a flight tonight," Van Aert added. "We'll see if I can get there.

"It's definitely not a pity. I went for it today because a victory like this is priceless."

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  • Giro d'Italia: Carapaz and Hindley neck and neck as Buitrago clinches stage 17 win Giro d'Italia: Carapaz and Hindley neck and neck as Buitrago clinches stage 17 win

    Santiago Buitrago won stage 17 of the Giro d'Italia as Richard Carapaz kept hold of the maglia rosa despite pressure from Jai Hindley.

    Colombian Buitrago had not won a Grand Tour stage before the mountainous 165km route from Ponte di Legno to Lavarone, but the Bahrain Victorious rider got off the mark on Wednesday.

    Having caught Gijs Leemreize on the final climb, Buitrago cruised to victory with a margin of 35 seconds.

    Mathieu van der Poel turned in another gutsy ride, but the Dutchman did not have enough in the tank to push on for a second stage win of the Giro after going out ahead on his own with around 65km remaining. 

    Van der Poel's compatriot Leemreize crossed the line second, almost two minutes ahead of third-placed Jan Hirt, who won Tuesday's stage.

    Hugh Carthy was fourth ahead of Carapaz and Hindley, who both finished two minutes and 53 seconds behind Buitrago.

    "It's been a really hard stage. I think we're happy – every day everything is being defined more, everything is clearing up in the GC and I'm happy to have the jersey another day," said Carapaz, who holds a three-second lead over Hindley.

    "Tomorrow will be an important day – we have to get through the remaining days, no day is easy and we've got a very difficult weekend coming up."

    Hard luck for Yates

    It has been a frustrating race for Simon Yates, who has won two stages but found himself way out of contention for the maglia rosa.

    His race is now run, with Yates withdrawing due to a knee problem, with Team BikeExchange-Jayco team doctor Matteo Beltemacchi confirming: "Despite daily therapy and Simon's tenacity, the knee pain grew worse."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) 2:27:41
    2. Gijs Leemreize (Jumbo-Visma) +0:35
    3. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +2:28
    4. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) +2:28
    5. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:53

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 73:19:40
    2. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +1:05

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 218
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 103
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 94

  • Giro d'Italia: Hirt withstands the pain as Hindley closes in on Carapaz Giro d'Italia: Hirt withstands the pain as Hindley closes in on Carapaz

    Richard Carapaz's overall lead at the Giro d'Italia was cut to just three seconds as Jai Hindley finished third in a gruelling stage 16 won by Jan Hirt.

    The Giro returned in some style on Tuesday following Monday's rest day, with a 202km route from Salo to Aprica that included three category one climbs and over 5,000 metres of climbing in total.

    Hirt came out in front, sealing the first grand tour stage win of his career.

    The Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert rider was part of the breakaway and subsequently pushed up the final climb on the Valico di Santa Cristina before managing a difficult descent. 

    He finished seven seconds clear of Thymen Arensman, with Hindley sprinting ahead of Carapaz to put pressure on the rider wearing the maglia rosa and claim the four-second bonus for finishing third. 

    "I've had a few problems during the stage. My chain dropped, I cramped, but I never gave up," Hirt said.

    "I'm glad I managed to go solo. I always said that my biggest achievement would be to win a stage at the Giro d'Italia and I could stop after that, but I won't stop now."

    Carapaz said: "It's been a hard stage and at the end I'm happy. I thought I was going to win the sprint for third place.

    "I eventually didn't, but it's still a good day for me. I've lost a few seconds on Hindley, but I gained more on [Joao] Almeida."

    Alejandro Valverde, on his final Giro appearance, got himself up the GC standings, though not enough to be a true contender in the final week. He sits 11th overall.
     

    Mythical Mortirolo

    An initially big breakaway group split on the Mortirolo Pass, one of the most notorious climbs in professional cycling.

    Hirt was one of the riders to drop off, but he recovered brilliantly and joined a seven-strong group that wound its way to the final climb.

    "Every time I hear Mortirolo I want to anticipate. I wanted to go in the breakaway today," Hirt said.

    "There were difficult moments when the group split, so then we had to come back on the Mortirolo, then in the end on the last climb I had a problem with my bike, it was not shifting properly and the chain was jumping.

    "Then I had cramps on the downhill, so I had all these problems, but I just wanted to fight all the way to the finish."

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 5:40:45
    2. Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +0:07
    3. Jai Hindley (BORA-Hansgrohe) +1:24
    4. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +1:24
    5. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1:24

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 68:49:06
    2. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:03
    3. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +0:44

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 117

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 167
    2. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 99
    3. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 92

  • Giro d'Italia: Ciccone claims emotional stage-15 win as Carapaz retains overall lead Giro d'Italia: Ciccone claims emotional stage-15 win as Carapaz retains overall lead

    Giulio Ciccone broke down in tears after claiming his "most beautiful victory" on stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia, as Richard Carapaz retained the pink jersey ahead of Jai Hindley.    Ciccone, who has suffered an injury-blighted two years, made his decisive move with 19km remaining, breaking clear of Hugh Carthy and Santiago Buitrago on the final uphill stretch towards Cogne, as he recorded his third Giro stage win.   The triumph represents his first since 2019, when he also won the race's mountains classification, and the 27-year-old declared it his finest moment after crossing the line in Northern Italy.   "This was my most beautiful victory," said Ciccone. "It's even better than the yellow jersey in the Tour de France or my first stage win at the Giro.   "It's been a really difficult period. When you try and win and nothing happens, it's always more difficult and it really tries your mental strength. I didn't feel like myself again, but I kept waiting and waiting and I found it today."

    Buitrago took second at 1 minute 31 seconds behind the Trek-Segafredo rider, while Antonio Pedrero was third at 2:19 behind the Italian, with Carthy in fourth.

    Meanwhile, Carapaz retained the overall lead despite crashing with 171km remaining, being one of around a dozen riders to be brought down when the back of the peloton came to a standstill after a collision, with Saturday's stage 14 winner Simon Yates also hitting the deck.

    But the 2019 Giro winner recovered to finish the stage and retain a seven-second advantage over Hindley, with Joao Almeida 30 seconds behind the Ecuadorian, while Koen Bouwman edged ahead of Diego Rosa in the mountain classifications. 

    Ciccone's finest hour

    Ciccone has experienced success at the Giro d'Italia before, claiming a stage-10 win back in 2016 and a stage-16 victory during an impressive showing back in 2019. But the Italian missed the 2020 edition of the race after testing positive for COVID-19 before withdrawing after a crash the following year, and was overcome with emotion after ending two frustrating years by claiming an impressive triumph.

    STAGE RESULT 

    1. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 4:37:41
    2. Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious) + 1:31
    3. Antonio Pedrero (Spa/Movistar) +2:19 
    4. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) +3:09
    5. Martijn Tusveld (Team DSM) +4:36

    CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

    General Classification

    1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) 63:06:57
    2. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) +0:07
    3. Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) +0:30

    Points Classification

    1. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) 238 
    2. Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 121
    3. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) 171

    King of the Mountains

    1. Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) 109
    2. Diego Rosa (EOLO-Kometa) 92
    3. Jai Hindly (Bora-Hansgrohe) 62

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