TDF Stage 21: Won by Sam Bennett

Connor Swift finishes his Tour in a breakaway, Sam Bennett wins final stage in Paris, Tadej Pogacar gets to celebrate winning the 2020 Tour de France

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TDF Stage 21: Won by Sam Bennett

The jewel in the crown for sprinters, the final stage of the Tour de France that finishes on the Champs-Élysées in Paris was won on Sunday by Sam Bennett who beat world champion Mads Pedersen and mega-star Peter Sagan. Bennett added to his wins in prestigious cities like Rome, Dubai and Istanbul at the end of other national Tours. The last winner of the final stage with the Green jersey was Mark Cavendish in 2011. Overall, 21 year old Tadej Pogacar won his first Tour de France as well as the King of the Mountains competition and the best Young rider prize.

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There were 146 riders who started stage 21 in Mantes-la-Jolie with Tadej Pogacar in the yellow jersey for the first time of his career. It was time to celebrate for the Slovenians and UAE Team Emirates. As the peloton entered the final loops in Paris following several skirmishes, four riders managed to go clear with 42km to go: classics legend Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis), Britain’s Conor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic) and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Behind them, Sam Bennett won the peloton’s intermediate sprint for fifth place. The winner of the beautiful stage on the Ré island had therefore mathematically secured the green jersey to become the first Irishman to do so since Sean Kelly in 1989. The leading quartet were not given a lot of room and their lead was not much more than 20″. Swift was dropped with 7.5km to go before the other three were reeled in after a strong pull by Rémi Cavagna 4km from the finish.

Several teams including Sunweb and Lotto-Soudal geared up for the final sprint but Deceuninck-Quick Step had the best organisation to deliver a perfect bunch gallop for Bennett despite a strong acceleration by Trek-Segafredo for Pedersen on his last day of racing in the rainbow jersey. Bennett timed his effort really well to fend off his opponents and get the best victory of his career so far.

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Tadej Pogacar: “It’s unbelievable. It’s really crazy to be the winner of the Tour de France. Even if I’d come second or further in the ranking, it would still be nice to be here. This is just the top of the top. I can’t describe it with words. Today was a very special day with my team-mates. Finally I had some time to talk with them on the bike. The other days, it was just racing full gas. I think every rider from the peloton congratulated me today.

It has been a long journey, which began well before we started in Nice and has ended in the most beautiful way. My season was focused on the Tour de France from the start of the year, the preparation was perfect and well planned by the team with training camps and training plans during the lockdown: I was always focused even in the difficult moments when the racing stopped earlier in the year.

I arrived at the Grande Boucle in good shape, along the way we lost two teammates, but the team managed to maintain a great atmosphere. It was a pleasure to experience this, with all my teammates and staff members by my side, the challenges that the Tour offered up every day, trying to always remain calm and, at the same time, concentrated. I really still can’t believe what fantastic moments I have lived! It would have been great to finish second in Paris, but being here in the yellow jersey is the best you can ask for.

Today was a special day, I was able to finally chat calmly with the other riders while we rode. It was exciting to receive the compliments of so many riders in the bunch. Cycling is a beautiful sport.”

Sam Bennett: “I can’t tell you how I feel; standing here as a winner with the green jersey on the Champs-Elysées. This is the world championship for the sprinters. I never thought I’d win this stage, so to win it in the green jersey, it’s fantastic! I’m part of a dream team. It’s just such an amazing feeling. The suffering in the mountains was worth it. It took me so long to get here, I’m going to enjoy every moment of this victory.

“I feel amazing, I can’t tell you how happy I am! I never thought I would be in this position one day. I grew up watching these Champs-Élysées sprints filmed from every angle and to do it myself now in the green jersey it’s unbelievable! It’s the best victory of my career. It’s something I will remember and treasure for the rest of my life, especially as I did it in the green jersey, which I never dreamed of winning.”

It was a really fast and technical finale. I’ve been nervous when we went back to the front. Then the boys destroyed the race, they were first after the tunnel and I thought it was too early. Trek came but we had each side covered. There was a bit of a head wind, we let them go first, then I opened up. Stuyven came to the front for Pedersen. I thought somebody would pass me. I can’t believe I’ve won it.”

Primoz Roglic: Today was his third podium in a grand tour. Last year he won the Vuelta a Espana and finished third in the Giro d’Italia. “I am obviously very disappointed”, Roglic said. “I gave 110 percent, but I had nothing left yesterday. I feel sorry for my teammates for not finishing it off, but I didn’t do it on purpose. I just couldn’t go any faster. Despite the disappointment, I am also very proud of this second place.”

“I’d rather finish second or third than finishing just off the podium. I am also proud of the team. We fought every day for three weeks on end and we gave everything. We continued to fight for our goal together. The way we raced was beautiful. I am very proud of that. I don’t know if we made mistakes as a team. Whether we should have raced even more aggressively. We have to analyze that. I will definitely come back to the Tour. You always want to win and be the best. We can learn from this and there are certainly areas for improvement, also with me. The motivation is there and hopefully we will come out even stronger.”

“We continued to fight for our goal together. The way we raced was beautiful. I am very proud of that.”

Wout van Aert: Two-time stage winner Wout van Aert placed himself in the mix in the sprint on the Champs-Élysées and finished sixth. “Without Amund, I was one man short in the final. He’s normally one of the last leadout riders for Dylan so he knows how it works. He had to deal with a mechanical problem on the penultimate lap so getting back to the front was difficult. I had to position myself on my own for the sprint. That went quite well and I also had a lot of speed in the last corner. I lost that speed because I was held up by Viviani. For me personally this was a fantastic Tour with two victories, but the disappointment of missing the overall win still dominates. It wasn’t easy to head into today’s final stage, but we made the switch to go for it one more time. We raced at the front for three weeks and we showed that again today. I would rather have won again, but it was not possible. Now it’s time to rest for two days and then I’ll switch my focus to the World Championships.”

Connor Swift: “I just completed my very first Tour de France, and loved it, as I did being in a breakaway today on the Champs-Élysées. It was just a great experience to have. A dream that has come true ”

Adam Yates – 9th overall: “All-in-all I think we can be happy. As we said at the very beginning we never came here with ambitions of riding the general classification and in the end we came out with a top-10 in the biggest bike race in the world. The whole race we rode well as a team and stayed focused throughout and I think we can be proud of what we did here.”

Luka Mezgec: “It was a great experience. It was actually much harder than expected, much rougher surface, so I was quite in shock, for the first two laps I was like ‘woah, this is kind of hard.’ It was a little bit weird because of there were no crowds, I saw lots of Slovenian flags, but still I cannot imagine how much better it can be when everything is full.

“The final sprint, I was just not in a good position. I actually didn’t feel so good and I spent too much trying to get in a good position in the final corner. We expected more, at least a stage win and we were a few times really close, but my for my personal success I’m really satisfied.”

Peter Sagan: “As expected, it all came down to a fast bunch sprint. I was well-placed, in Sam’s wheel but in the end, he was faster and I took third. Everything is fine, the Tour de France is over and I’m happy to be here in Paris.”

Alessandro De Marchi: “It was one of the hardest Tours de France that I did and it has been really hard mentally because of many things. Everything can be more difficult when you are suffering a bit mentally and I think had the crash of last year’s Tour de France in my head a bit. So, it’s really nice and gives me confidence to be back in Paris again and put everything behind me. I will try to enjoy it as much as possible and it will be special because it may be the last Tour de France for this organisation so this in another reason to enjoy every moment with the riders and staff.”

Simon Geschke: “Like every Grand Tour, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. I had good and bad days but for me, the good memories definitely outweigh the bad. I had some really good moments and I am happy I could get some good results. Unfortunately it wasn’t a stage win but it’s the biggest race in the year and the world so I think we can be happy.”

Matteo Trentin: “For sure, it was a hard Tour de France. Apart from maybe one day, there really were not many times we could say it was easy. It was probably the hardest Tour de France I’ve ever done in terms of parcours and the way we raced it every day. I was coming here for a stage victory because of circumstances, because I think the legs were pretty good. But for sure, I come out of this Tour de France with high expectations for the races to come.”

Michael Schär: “It was a really fast Tour and one with not many stages where we had an easy time. We were going all out every day, the climbing was fast, the flat sections were fast, so it feels like we were in Nice yesterday. It’s quite sentimental to be doing my last Tour de France with this organization. After 11 years with Jim Ochowicz, ten years at the Tour, it is always a great day when we roll into Paris. Now, it’s the last time so I will enjoy it and make the most out of it.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “I think we tried our best. Winning a stage was the goal but we didn’t reach it, but I think everyone gave their best. We were close a few times but you see how hard it is to win a stage at the Tour de France. There’s nothing you can do about it but give your best. It’s a bit sad to be here at my last Tour de France with this organisation so I want to thank all the people who were involved in my career with this team, Jim, the management, and the staff who have taken care of me.”

Marc Hirschi: After making his way back from the podium Hirschi said: “It was really nice to be up there on the podium. It was emotional; it was like a dream coming true. It’s been a more than successful Tour de France, I didn’t expect it to go so well. Our goal was to be in the breakaways and now I’ve achieved much, much more than that. I think as a team we achieved a lot here too, it’s been a really successful Tour for us.”

Richie Porte: “Everyone says it’s a procession, but it’s a hard stage,” said Porte. “The cobbles are not getting any softer over the years, so it’s just a relief really to get it over and done with. It’s a great feeling, a dream come true, to be honest. To stand on the podium in Paris is just unbelievable. It was so nice to be up there with two champions. It’s a moment I will savour for the rest of my life.”

“This result just caps everything off – I’ve had some bad luck over the years, so it’s finally nice to have a three-week race where everything goes to plan,” continued Porte. “The Stage where I really started to believe was the Grand Colombier. Obviously, the Slovenian guys were the strongest there, but I was third. And the time trial yesterday was one of the best I have done in my career. It’s just been such a journey. I am just so happy to finally be on the podium of a Grand Tour.”

Mads Pedersen: “We know that Sam Bennett is one of the fastest guys, so it would have to be a miracle for me to win today,” admitted Pedersen. “But if you don’t try, you never win. We hoped that he would be a few spots behind me, and then I actually had a chance. In the end, Jasper did a perfect leadout, but so did Quick-Step. Sam was just straight in my wheel when I started the sprint, and then it was almost mission impossible. Of course, I would have loved to finish my last race in the World Champion jersey with a victory, but I’m really happy with a podium on the Champs-Élysées.”

1. Sam Bennett Deceuninck-Quick Step 02:53:32
2. Mads Pedersen Trek-Segafredo @ 00
3. Peter Sagan Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Alexander Kristoff UAE Team Emirates
5. Elia Viviani Cofidis
6. Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo – Visma
7. Caleb Ewan Lotto Soudal
8. Hugo Hofstetter Israel Start-Up Nation
9. Bryan Coquard B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
10. Max Walscheid NTT Pro Cycling Team

23. Jack Bauer Mitchelton-Scott
37. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma
39. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma
41. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates
47. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott
62. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo
86. Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers @ 21
89. Daniel Martin Israel Start-Up Nation @ 34
135. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 02:38
136. Connor Swift Team Arkea-Samsic @ 02:38

1. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates 87:20:05
2. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma @ 59
3. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 03:30
4. Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 05:58
5. Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 06:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 06:47
7. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 07:48
8. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 08:02
9. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott @ 09:25
10. Damiano Caruso Bahrain-McLaren @ 14:03
11. Guillaume Martin Cofidis @ 16:58
12. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team @ 17:41
13. Richard Carapaz INEOS Grenadiers @ 25:53
14. Warren Barguil Team Arkea-Samsic @ 31:04
15. Sepp Kuss Team Jumbo – Visma @ 42:20
16. Pello Bilbao Bahrain-McLaren @ 55:56
17. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic @ 01:03:07
18. Pierre Rolland B&B Hotels-Vital Concept @ 01:08:26
19. Carlos Verona Movistar Team @ 01:19:54
20. Wout Van Aert Team Jumbo – Visma @ 01:20:31

36. Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 02:19:11
37. Hugh Carthy EF Pro Cycling @ 02:20:31
83. Jack Bauer Mitchelton-Scott @ 04:00:34
106. Connor Swift Team Arkea-Samsic @ 04:41:59
129. Luke Rowe INEOS Grenadiers @ 05:17:50

Green jersey: Sam Bennett
Youth jersey: Tadej Pogacar
KoM jersey: Tadej Pogacar

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