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05:44:23

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The top ten

What are they feeding these Danes, man? Four riders in the top ten!
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Jonas Vingegaard comes home with the third best time

Wow! What a ride from the young man. He has been a total revelation at this year's Tour de France.
Following him across the line is our maillot jaune, Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian is 57 seconds down on stage winner van Aert, but that really doesn't matter now. He has won the Tour de France.

Careful and cautious from the maillot jaune

Pogacar is not taking any risks, so he's unlikely to threaten van Aert in the hotseat, and that just about wraps it up for the stage with 10km of his effort still to go. Vingegaard is going quicker than Carapaz, but not as quick as van Aert, so he and the Ineos rider will preserve their respective second and third on the podium. Pello didn't quite get enough time to nick the eighth place of Martin. Mas is motoring along well enough without making any waves – pretty much as he has all race. Hard to see anything of any significance changing anywhere in the top ten.

Poor time for Rigoberto Uran

The popular Colombian has really run out of gas in this final week and he slumps to 33rd on the day here, after tumbling dramatically from the top two earlier this week. Lucky for him, David Gaudu has not ridden much better, ensuring Uran's top ten is just about safe now.

No best time for Pogacar

Well I must admit to being surprised by this. He doesn't need to take any more time today, he has the cushion of five minutes he built in the mountains, but even so – there is something cannibalistic about the way he has approached this race so far that made me think he'd go for the win. All that being said, at intermediate 1, he's clearly not giving it 100% today.
Meanwhile, poor old Pello Bilbao has had some issues with his radio which looks to have slipped out of place. He ends up chucking it on the ground rather than faff about with it any longer – and the Basque is closing in on his target for the day, Guillaume Martin. This is one of those smaller battles within the stage, which would see one rider finish eighth overall and the other settle for a lowly ninth. Bilbao must find a minute and two seconds, but he's already got 30 of those seconds he needs.

O'Connor going well

Ben O'Connor of AG2R Citroen is having a good TT here and not just defending but actually stretching his gap to Wilco Keldermann. If he continues to do this he'll defend fourth place from the German. What a year it's been for the young Aussie!

New leader!

After those blistering split times, it's really no surprise to see Wout van Aert take the lead of this stage. He's home with a time of 35'53". BOOM.
Meanwhile, his young teammate Jonas Vingegaard has just come down the ramp at the start like a bat out of hell! Followed two minutes later by yellow jersey, Tadej Pogacar. Vingegaard is a handy TTer, but I worry for Richard Carapaz. He's no slouch, but he's also far from a specialist.

And that's another intermediate smashed

Wout van Wonderful is really on one now, he breaks through the second intermediate and shows no signs of slowing down. This might be the stage win right here.
Not long now till Super Tadej takes the course.

Gaudu is go!

And the Frenchman rolls off the ramp to a rapturous reception from the assembled crowd. I would say he has no hope of victory today, but he has battled bravely though this Tour after being stricken with illness in the middle week and you can see he's popular with the home fans.
Another Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, comes across the line to an even louder applause than Gaudu just got. It has been a fairly muted Tour by his exuberant standards – just the one stage win and one day in yellow, and that right back on the very first day of the race, 3,000 kilometres and a bazillion years ago.

Wow, Wout!

And the Belgian phenom has set the new fastest time at the first intermediate time check! He goes 8'58", the first sub-9 minute time of the stage.

Here come the GC men

We're beginning to reach the upper orders of the general classification now, with the first riders from the top 20 overall coming off the ramp. Can somebody spring a surprise today and improve their position? There is a huge gap between first and twentieth in this year's GC, almost an hour in fact, but within that there are plenty of riders clustered together. They'll all be hoping to sneak from thirteenth into the top ten, or go from top ten to top five. Indeed, the most intriguing contest might be between places two and three, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz. Just six seconds separate them!

I may have spoken too soon...

Looks like Thomas and Porte are not going to come close to the top times today. Neither rider is going to trouble the top ten I don't think.

Kung misses the mark

As that second intermediate time sort of indicated, the big man from Switzerland was really slowing down on the second half of the course. He's still got himself a provisional podium place, but he crossed the line 17 seconds slower than Asgreen.
Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte are on the road night now. They probably represent Ineos' best chances of salvaging a stage win in this Tour de France, which has – you have to admit – been a bit of a disappointment for them. Thomas goes to Tokyo next week for the time trial event. so he should be on something close to his best today if he's to have any hope of medalling in Japan.

One quarter of a second

That advantage from the first intermediate has evaporated for Kung, now. He's a mere .25 of a second faster than Asgreen at time check number two.

Ambulance on course!

It seems there's an ambulance on the roadside and it's obstructing around 60% of the tarmac. Kung has just navigated it safely with only a small deviation of his line. Let's hope others can manage to do the same, and that whomever the ambulance is there for is also OK.

Here comes King Kung

The European champion is on-course now and he could be one of the only riders capable of knocking Kasper Asgreen off his perch. He has hit one intermediate already and is running 10 seconds faster than Asgreen! This is really speeding up now.

Kasper goes kaboom!

That's a great ride from the Deceuninck-QuickStep man, who could well add another stage win at this race for his Belgian team of superstars with that time of 36'14". He's obliterated Bisseger's time by more than 20 seconds!
Chapeau, Kasper.

Asgreen tearing it up

Another Dane doing well today is Kasper Asgreen. The three-time national champion has just set the best intermediate time at the first check, and could be on for a new best time on the stage if he can sustain that effort until the end.

Something of a lull

Those times from Bjerg and Bisseger really have separated the wheat from the chaff. Nobody is really getting close, although we did briefly have a Brit on the podium in the shape of Fred Wright. He as now been bumped, however, by the Frenchman Bruno Armirail, of Groupama-FDJ.
Bjerg's teammate Brandon McNutly is handy against the clock and is currently about halfway through the course. Might he be able to unseat Bisseger, or will we have to wait a little while longer?

Bisseger vs Bjerg

These two specialists have lit up the early part of this time trial, with the Swiss just edging out the Dane for the provisional lead of the stage. The next best rider Max Walscheid was more than a minute down on both of them, which really underlines jsut what a good pair of times these were. Bisseger leads, with 36'37", while Bjerg's final time was 36'45". It'll be very interesting now to see who can trouble them – and if Tadej Pogacar can come along and blow them both out the water, as he did in the race's first time trial almost three weeks ago.

Cav has cheered up...

After his outburst yesterday and subsequent apology, it seems as though Mark Cavendish has cheered up a little bit today.

‘You just absorb it’ – Mark Cavendish on the Time Trial

Arty!

Whether it's Pantani climbing like an angel, Indurain monstering the TTs, LeMond and Fignon taking it down to the line, or Pogacar running away with it, the face of the race is always changing, but some things in the Tour de France are immutable.

Declercq's time in the hotseat is brief

El Tractor probably didn't even make it to the little luxury lounge where the leader sits before his time was beaten. The provisional lead of the stage remains within the Deceuninck team, however, with Dries Devenyns now occupying the top spot.
We've got a few real hitters on the course at the moment, with UAE's Mikkel Bjerg and EF's Stefan Bisseger homing in on the finish line in St Emillion.

We have our first finisher!

Tim Declercq stops the clock with a time of 40'20". I would characterise the way he crossed the line as 'unhurried'.
Interestingly, contrary to what Froome said after his recon, Sir Bradley Wiggins has just told us that the course is much more technical than it first seemed, and could be a challenge for power specialists like Stefan Kung. I suppose only time will tell which of the two former champions has read this course correctly.

No more Gorilla in the peloton

Not an earth-shattering announcement, but a poignant one for sure. Andre Greipel today announced his retirement at the end of this current season. That makes today his penultimate stage of the Tour de France, a race where he won 11 stages and was one of very few who could beat Mark Cavendish in his pomp. Goodbye, Gorilla!

Froome: "This is very much a power time trial."

Interviewed before the start, the four-time Tour de France champ told Bernie Eisel that the win today will almost certainly go to a power guy, suggesting it has "Pogacar written all over it".
Froome just rolled out of the starting house to the sound of boos from some members of the crowd. It seems bizarre to me that you would attend a stage of the Tour de France and boo a bloke who is, let's be honest, just about clinging onto his status as a professional bike rider at the top level. Still, there's no accounting for taste.

Good morning, and welcome to wine country!

This is it then, the final competitive stage of the Tour de France 2021. What a wild journey it has been to get to this point. Today is an individual time trial around the vineyards outside Saint Emillion.
The first rider is already off the ramp, and that honour goes to Tim 'El Tractor' Declercq as the lanterne rouge of the race (the man in last place on the general classification). Declercq has had plenty of challenges on his route through France and has been battling the time cut for the last few mountain stages, alongside the green jersey Mark Cavendish. Who, incidentally, has also just started his time trial effort.

Stage 19 recap

A day which started with a tender embrace between Eddy Merckx and Mark Cavendish – the two cycling greats past and present locked together on 34 Tour stage wins each – ended with an outsider causing an upset and moving to within 32 stage wins of the current record.
Two weeks after his first, Matej Mohoric’s second victory on this Tour of so many surprises came after what seemed to be a gilt-edged chance for Cavendish to break the record went begging.
Part of a six-man break that formed shortly after the start of the 207km ride from Mourenx, Mohoric put in his decisive attack with 25km remaining after a thrilling counter-move at the halfway point saw a stellar group of 20 riders form on the front before a yawning gap established between them and the peloton.
With fast finishers Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) all in the mix, Mohoric was not leaving anything for chance as he kicked clear to avoid having to contest any sprint. Without any Bahrain Victorious teammates to fall back on, Mohoric pushed a big gear as he dropped his fellow escapees once the attacks came in thick and fast in the rolling vineyards outside Bordeaux.
Mohoric celebrated his second stage win – a third on the bounce for Slovenia, and a fifth in total for the small Central European nation – by putting a finger to his mouth followed by a zip-shut motion. It was a response to the rumours of foul play that surfaced after the Bahrain Victorious team hotel was raided by police in the early hours of Thursday morning ahead of Stage 18 – a stage in which Mohoric was also part of the early break before being caught on the Col du Tourmalet.
Nine riders in pursuit were unable to ride with any cohesion, with a resigned Laporte eventually pipping Denmark’s Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) for second place at 58 seconds. Dutchman Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) and Germany’s Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), the Stage 12 winner, completed the top five before the remainder of the breakaway came home in dribs and drabs.
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