Roglic, 30, had led the Tour since its ninth stage, and he had never seemed to be threatened. He was backed by his teammates on the Jumbo-Visma team, who maintained a fast pace while protecting their leader at the head of the peloton, riding alongside him as he kept Pogacar from breaking free day after day.
But as Roglic rode alone on Saturday, he crumbled as much as Pogacar shone, and at the end of the stage, their positions had switched: Roglic, who was leading by 57 seconds in the general classification before the time trial, was left 59 seconds behind Pogacar.
“I just went full gas from bottom to the top,” Pogacar said of the final hill of the time trial, where he cemented his victory in the stage. The comment epitomized both his performance on Saturday, and his racing throughout the race’s three-week, pandemic-delayed trip across France.
The duel between Roglic and Pogacar was joined on the hills of the Massif Central earlier this month, but it fully unfolded in the French Alps when the race entered its final week on Tuesday. By then, it had become clear that the winner of the 2020 Tour de France would be one of the two men.
Slovene flags became more present on the sides of the road on the final days, as Roglic and Pogacar kept stalking each other in France’s mountainous landscapes, riding side by side or one behind another but never too far away.
Roglic was one of the race’s favorites since the start, and Pogacar was not an unknown. The winner of the 2019 edition of the Tour of California, he lit up the Tour de France this year in several mountain stages, winning two of them as he tried in vain to gain time on Roglic.
Yet whenever Pogacar tried to go, Roglic remained positioned right on his back wheel. “I’m doing Tadej no favor,” Roglic said last Sunday, after finishing a few seconds behind his countryman in the 15th stage.