Ljubljana (Slovenia), September 20
Just minutes after two Slovenian riders successfully sealed their first and second locations within the Tour de France, the president of Slovenia declared it a historic day for the tiny Alpine nation.
In a surprising climax to biking’s most prestigious race, Tadej Pogacar crushed his older, fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic within the final stage earlier than the largely ceremonial end in Paris on Sunday.
“It’s unimaginable,” Slovenian President Borut Pahor mentioned. “I wouldn’t imagine it if I didn’t see it.
“Both Tadej and Primoz deserve only admiration.”
After the essential stage on Saturday, Pahor hung a yellow flag on the presidential palace in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, within the coloration of the jersey worn by the general Tour chief.
“Today’s race is huge reason for national happiness and pride,” Pahor mentioned.
The win all however ensures that Pogacar will turn into the youngest post-World War II winner in biking’s showcase race and make the 2 Slovenians 1-2 within the total standings.
The Tour has gripped Slovenes since Roglic received Stage 4, then turned the primary Slovenian rider to put on the yellow jersey after Stage 9.
Their race inside a race has seen 1000’s of Slovenes carrying yellow jerseys, and wishing coronavirus-enforced journey restrictions weren’t stopping them from being in Paris on Sunday.
Pogacar will roll into the French capital on Sunday, the eve of his 22nd birthday, with a lead of 59 seconds over Roglic in what’s historically a ceremonial stage.
Pogacar was excellent Saturday in an uphill time trial, devouring the 57-second lead that had made Roglic look impregnable earlier than the showdown.
Pogacar would be the first rider from Slovenia to win the Tour.
Much of the nation of simply two million individuals, recognized extra for its alpine skiers, ski jumpers and basketball gamers than cyclists, got here to a standstill on Saturday because it watched the essential stage.
Most Slovenes had been satisfied — wrongly — that the far more skilled Roglic was more likely to come out because the winner.
Appearing to defy coronavirus gathering guidelines, Pogacar’s dwelling village celebrated the victory.
The mayor of Komenda, Stanislav Poglajen, mentioned he congratulated his dad and mom.
“For a week, I was on the verge of a heart attack,” mentioned Poglajen.
“At the beginning of the race, I didn’t believe that Tadej can make it. Primoz was so strong during previous races.”
The mayor added that “after 15 minutes” he noticed “how strong Tadej is.”
Born simply exterior Komenda, north of Ljubljana, biking was not Pogacar’s favourite sport. He preferred soccer as a substitute, however biking appeared nearly accidentally as his elder brother began coaching with an area membership.
“I immediately wanted to imitate my brother, but unfortunately they didn’t have such a small bike for me,” Pogacar mentioned on his web site.
However, that didn’t cease him and he hasn’t regarded again since his first race in 2008. — AP