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Philippa York's Tour de France winners and losers

pogacar uae team emirates tour de france 2020 winners losers
UAE Team Emirates celebrate their Tour de France win on stage 21 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

With another edition of the Tour de France done and dusted, Philippa York looks back at the French race and picks her winners and losers from the last three weeks of racing.

The race saw Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) ride into Paris after a thrilling conclusion to the race but there were a number of other highs - and some lows - that  have drawn our expert's opinion too. 

Winners

That the Tour even took place is a miracle in itself but the fact that it was inspiring, exciting and undecided until the penultimate day was all the more remarkable. In the context of the fear and suspicion that COVID-19 has brought to the world, and sport in particular, the Tour de France has shown there's hope not only for the future of cycling but life in general.

The race evolved to cope with the current circumstances and a new generation of racers emerged; young attacking riders who we'll hopefully see for many years. We had 21 stages and 21 different races, which showed that professional cycling can, and has, changed. There were no processions and nothing was decided until UAE led the peloton onto the Champs-Élysées. Vive le Tour. 

Tadej Pogačar

Team UAE Emirates rider Slovenias Tadej Pogacar wearing the overall leaders yellow jersey celebrates on the podium after winning the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race after the 21st and last stage of 122 km between ManteslaJolie and Champs Elysees Paris on September 20 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Pogačar celebrates his GC win in Paris (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

It's easy to say that the young Slovenian came away from the Tour de France with all the spoils. Despite his relative inexperience of racing Grand Tours he was always there or thereabouts with only one day when he lost time in the crosswinds going to Lavaur. His Vuelta showing last year was an indication that he needed to be taken seriously but everyone ignored him until his attack on the Peyresourde proved he was the strongest climber on the race.

Benefitting from the focus on Roglič versus Bernal, and the Jumbo vs Ineos battle, his UAE team had no real pressure on them and that was just as well because with the loss of Fabio Aru and specially Davide Formolo, he had only had David de La Cruz to support him in the crucial moments. Look past the question of whether Pogačar won or if Primož Roglič lost and you realise he's the most talented of the new generation, and he raced with a maturity beyond his years.

Jumbo-Visma

Tour de France 2020 107th Edition 7th stage Cazeres Loudenvielle 141 km 05092020 Wout Van Aert BEL Team Jumbo Visma Tom Dumoulin NED Team Jumbo Visma Adam Yates GBR Mitchelton Scott photo Vincent KalutPNBettiniPhoto2020

Jumbo-Visma in control on the road to Loudenvielle (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

'The new Sky' would be a good description of how the Dutch team operated. As a unit they resembled the way in which Dave Brailsford's squad controlled previous Tours but without the resentment. The race wasn't crushed by their tactics, and instead it was a case of managing situations and playing to their strengths whilst not completely stifling the opposition.

Having all their guys in good form wasn't by chance, they had planned their season accordingly and established a core group of riders that were adaptable to various circumstances. Wout van Aert is the immediate one you think of when it comes to guiding his team leader but Robert Gesink was equally as worthy. There aren't many people who can set the tempo on a mountain or two day after day. Ultimately they were undone by Pogačar but the Dutch have set the new standard.    

Marc Hirschi

Team Sunweb rider Switzerlands Marc Hirschi celebrates his combativity prize at the end of the 21st and last stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 122 km between ManteslaJolie and Champs Elysees Paris on September 20 2020 Photo by AnneChristine POUJOULAT AFP Photo by ANNECHRISTINE POUJOULATAFP via Getty Images

Hirschi, the most combative rider of the Tour (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

From the start in Nice, he was fighting with Julian Alaphilippe and Adam Yates for the win but that ride on stage 2 was no fluke as the slog to Laruns showed. There, despite being in the front alone for 85km of the stage he was barely beaten by Pogačar.

Four days later and he went and won his first Tour de France stage from another break. Winner of the most aggressive rider by a country mile, Sunweb have a real talent on their books as he can sprint, climb and time trial. He’s also a fearless descender and one of the future stars for sure. Watch this space.

Primoz Roglic

LA ROCHESURFORON FRANCE SEPTEMBER 17 Primoz Roglic of Slovenia and Team Jumbo Visma Yellow Leader Jersey Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE Team Emirates Polka Dot Mountain Jersey Carlos Verona Quintanilla of Spain and Movistar Team Sepp Kuss of The United States and Team Jumbo Visma Enric Mas Nicolau of Spain and Movistar Team White Best Young Jersey Mountains Monte du plateau des Glires 1390m Breakaway Public Fans Dust Gravel during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 18 a 175km stage from Mribel to La Roche sur Foron 543m TDF2020 LeTour on September 17 2020 in La RochesurForon France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Primož Roglič in yellow on stage 18 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Yes he finished second when it looked all the more likely that the time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles would be a coronation and not a defeat but look beyond the obvious and you see a progression. The way the 30-year-old has coped with being the favourite all the way through the race has been impressive.

Taking the yellow jersey and assuming the responsibilities that come with that wasn't easy but he didn't seem overwhelmed. One bad day isn't the end of him and it's how he deals with the disappointment that will be important.

Losers

Ineos Grenadiers

Team Ineos rider Colombias Egan Bernal R climbs the Grand Colombier pass behind the leaders group during the 15th stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race 175 km between Lyon and Grand Colombier on September 13 2020 Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD AFP Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARDAFP via Getty Images

Egan Bernal with Michał Kwiatkowski on the Grand Colombier (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Where did it all go wrong? Just about everywhere if I have to be honest. Only Michał Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz are excused from the sorry performances of a squad that promised so much and delivered so little. Considering they have the biggest budget and some of the best riders for each role they underperformed consistently. All the riders looked tired. Sivakov ought to have been retired with the injuries he sustained on the opening day because he never recovered – the Tour de France isn't an active recovery ride.

There were a couple of illusions of grandeur when it was echelon time but elsewhere they were outclassed by Jumbo-Visma and it was only when Egan Bernal went home that a plan B came into action. Too little too late when you consider the resources available, and Dave Brailsford knows it. Position 10 in the race convoy for Paris says it all.

Peter Sagan

MERIBEL FRANCE SEPTEMBER 16 Start Peter Sagan of Slovakia and Team Bora Hansgrohe Sam Bennett of Ireland and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Green Points Jersey Mask Covid safety measures Team Presentation during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 17 a 170km stage from Grenoble to Mribel Col de la Loze 2304m TDF2020 LeTour on September 16 2020 in Mribel France Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Sagan alongside his green jersey heir, Sam Bennett (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The end of an era. The Slovak never looked fast enough to win a stage and when he was docked points for barging into Wout Van Aert hopes of another green jersey went at the same time. To his credit he had his team try to eliminate the other sprinters and it might have worked if Sagan himself was in better form. Despite the hype and still having the swagger, the character that once looked invincible has started the slow descent into the twilight of his career.

The French teams, except AG2R

Groupama-FDJ at the Tour

Groupama-FDJ at the Tour (Image credit: Getty Images)

If you remove AG2R, who won a stage and had Romain Bardet hanging in there until he too fell off, it's worrying that French cycling had no-one who looked competitive. They have so few young riders who progress when they reach the professional ranks and when they rely on their established stars they too underperform.

Pierre Rolland, as the most prominent French rider in the third week, is indicative of a malaise that comes over the home collective as soon as the Tour de France swings into view. It seems that they are happy just to be there, going through their villages waving to friends and family. I won't even quote what Bernard Hinault said about his countrymen as it changes nothing, which sadly has been the case of their GC result for 35 years.  

Miguel Ángel López

Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez slipped from third place to sixth overall after the final time trial at the 2020 Tour de France

Migul Ángel López battles on La Planche des Belles Filles (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

He won a stage, and it was the Queen stage, but give him a time trial bike and he is woeful. Five minutes slower for a fifty-minute effort that includes more than a third of the riding time uphill is bad and that's after he says he's been working on his position.

The Colombian is the least likely to win a major stage race and most likely to be in the wrong half of any split in the peloton. Therefore the Superman nickname has to be a misnomer. Vinokurov ought to have brought Jakob Fuglsang. End of.

NTT Pro Cycling

ORCIERES FRANCE SEPTEMBER 01 Roman Kreuziger of Czech Republic and NTT Pro Cycling Team during the 107th Tour de France 2020 Stage 4 a 1605km stage from Sisteron to OrcieresMerlette 1825m TDF2020 LeTour on September 01 2020 in Orcieres France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

NTT Pro Cycling at th Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The arrival of Bjarne Riis hasn't changed much for the South African registered team. Barely able to put a rider in the attacks, no presence in the GC and no threat in the sprint stages there seems to be a communications problem somewhere in the ranks.

The only time they seemed to be together was the celebration photo when five of them made it to the Champs-Élysées. It made me wonder if that was the first occasion they saw each other, you know like people you had thought you had lost and would never see again. Arkea finished the Tour with the least prize money but NTT must have been the ones with the least media coverage. Yawn.