Tour de France: Pogacar 'super happy' as Slovenian ace celebrates in Paris

By Sports Desk July 18, 2021

Tadej Pogacar said he felt "super happy" after putting the finishing touches to a second successive Tour de France triumph.

The 22-year-old Slovenian had led the general classification from stage eight, and 15 days down the road in Paris he wrapped up a supremely impressive performance.

As well as the top prize, Pogacar also collected the king of the mountain and young rider honours, and it is hard to imagine there not being abundant further success to come over the next decade.

Pogacar spoke on the podium after his win, saying: "Last year I should have written a speech for my first Tour de France victory but I didn't know how to write it.

"So also this year I said, 'OK, I'm going to speak from the heart and say what I have to say'.

"Thank you everybody that came here to support us cyclists through all the three weeks. To the French public and all fans of cycling from the whole world, it is so fantastic racing on the amazing parcours of the Tour this year."

He thanked his team, UAE Team Emirates, for helping him achieve the goals they set out to reach.

"I cannot describe how happy I am to be part of this family, it melts my heart," Pogacar said.

"They were with me every day of the whole year preparing for the Tour. I'm super happy and proud to be part of this team on this journey.

"I'm not going to cry. Thank you everybody. It was a difficult year with COVID and I really hope next year we come here without the masks.

"Of course I cannot forget my family, standing beside me, and my girlfriend and my friends. I hope I've told enough but I'm super happy. Thank you everybody."

Pogacar said it was "time for celebration".

"I will remain motivated in the coming years, but what come next will come next… I’m not stressed about it," Pogacar said, quoted on the Tour's official website.

"It's quite different. Last year, I felt strong, incredible emotions. This year I'm again here, standing atop the podium, but the feelings are quite different."

 

Tour great Eddy Merckx won the general classification five times from 1969 to 1974, and had such a ruthlessness he was nicknamed 'The Cannibal'.

Pogacar does not want to be compared to legends of the sport, insisting he should be allowed to plot his own career path.

"The new Cannibal? I don't like to compare myself to other riders," he said. "Each rider has his own style and personality. Every rider is unique. I don't think there is anything left. I just enjoy life, I work hard, I love cycling – and those are the most important things."

Pogacar did not quite secure a sweep of the Tour honours, with the green jersey – the points classification that rewards the best sprinters – going to 36-year-old Deceuninck-QuickStep star Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish's four stage victories took him level with the record of 34 that Merckx had owned exclusively for over 40 years.

"Ten years later, again with the green jersey, it's fantastic, it feels like getting younger," Cavendish said. "I'm back. It's a dream."

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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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