Peter Sagan

Tour de France race of truth to decide champ; Peter Sagan’s run likely ends

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The stage is set to decide the Tour de France winner on Saturday.

After Soren Kragh Andersen of Denmark won Friday’s 19th stage of 21, where the overall leaders finished together, eyes turn to Saturday’s 22-mile individual time trial — otherwise known as the race of truth (6:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).

A Slovenian is extremely likely to win a Tour title for the first time.

Primoz Roglic, a former world junior team champion ski jumper, has been in the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks. He leads countryman Tadej Pogacar by 57 seconds going into the last two stages. Sunday’s finisher is a ceremonial ride into Paris where the leaders are not expected to attack each other.

Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia, who crashed directly into a road sign on the first stage, is in third, 1:27 behind Roglic. Lopez is 1:39 ahead of fourth-place Australian Richie Porte.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Stage 20 Time Trial Notable Start Times
10:46 a.m. ET — Sepp Kuss (USA)
11:08 — Richie Porte (AUS)
11:10 — Miguel Angel Lopez (COL)
11:12 — Tadej Pogacar (SLO)
11:14 — Primoz Roglic (SLO)

Even with a finishing first-category climb, the time trial distance of 22 miles makes it difficult for Pogacar to make up 57 seconds on Roglic. Pogacar beat Roglic in the national time trial championship in June — by nine seconds on a 9.7-mile course.

“Tomorrow it’s all on me,” Roglic said, according to Cyclingnews.com. “The team has done an amazing job, I have the [yellow] jersey, but we have all worked for it.”

Pogacar, at 21, is bidding to become the youngest Tour de France podium finisher since 1909, according to ProCyclingStats.com. Last year, he became the youngest podium finisher in any Grand Tour since 1974 by placing third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic.

“If I’m on a good day, it’s a course that suits me well,” Pogacar said of the time trial. “If someone told me I’d be in this position before the Tour. I would never have believed them.”

The Slovenians from different teams owned this Tour while defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia and the formerly dominant Ineos Grenadiers struggled and eventually abandoned on Wednesday.

One competition that all but wrapped up Friday was for the green jersey going to the Tour’s top sprinter.

Sam Bennett is in line to become the second Irishman to win that title after Sean Kelly, who did so four times in the 1980s.

Bennett goes into the weekend with a 55-point lead over Slovakian Peter Sagan, who won the title in each of his last seven Tours that he has finished, a record total.

With a maximum 70 points available for one sprinter left, Bennett would clinch the title by finishing eighth on Sunday and picking up a handful of intermediate sprint points.

MORE: Slovenia’s president is all about the Tour de France

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Caleb Ewan wins chaotic Tour de France stage finish; Peter Sagan penalized

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POITIERS, France (AP) — Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan secured his second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France in a chaotic dash to the finish Wednesday that saw Peter Sagan penalized for barging a rival.

Sagan, squeezed up against barriers on the right-hand side of the finishing straight, made room for himself by leaning his left shoulder into Belgian rider Wout Van Aert.

The irregular move cost Sagan his second place behind Ewan. The Slovakian was dropped back to 85th place.

Irish rider Sam Bennett was bumped up to second and Van Aert to third.

Afterward, Van Aert and Sagan had a sharp exchange of words.

“There wasn’t a gap and if you use your elbows to open it up, I think it’s completely against the rules,” said Van Aert, a two-time stage winner this year.

“It’s already dangerous enough and I was really surprised and shocked at the moment that I felt something,” he said. “Really scared.”

In the race for the overall win, Primoz Roglic stayed safe on the rolling ride to Poitiers to keep the race leader’s yellow jersey. The 167-kilometer (104-mile) stage started on France’s Atlantic coast.

Ewan skirted Bennett in the last meters (yards) and threw his front wheel across the line.

“It was very, very hectic,” said Ewan. “Quite crazy.”

The 25-year-old Ewan, racing for the Lotto Soudal team, also won Stage 3 and three stages at his inaugural Tour last year.

Sagan’s relegation also cost him dearly in his hunt for the Tour’s green jersey, awarded to riders who collect the most points in sprints along the route and at finishes. Losing second place cost Sagan 30 points and awarded them instead to Bennett.

Bennett and Sagan have been locked in a tight duel for that prize, repeatedly taking the jersey off each other. Sagan has a record seven green jersey titles from previous Tours but is now seeing Bennett get away from him, 68 points clear with few other opportunities for sprinters to shine before the final dash on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sept. 20.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

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Sam Bennett wins stage as Tour de France continues after virus testing

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Ireland’s Sam Bennett won the Tour de France’s 10th stage by less than a wheel’s length after all the riders left in the three-week race were cleared to continue following coronavirus testing.

Bennett, a 29-year-old for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, earned his first Tour stage win, edging fellow sprinters Caleb Ewan and Peter Sagan. He also took the green sprinters’ jersey from Sagan.

“I forgot to throw the bike at the line in the moment, and I thought he might have got me,” a tearful Bennett said. “I thought that I’d be in tears, but I’m just kind of in shock.

“You dream of it, and you never think it’ll happen. It does. It did.”

All of the overall contenders, led by Slovenian Primoz Roglic, finished in the same time on the Tour’s flattest stage, the first in history to start on one island and finish on another.

Bennett took a 21-point lead in the sprint standings over Sagan, who owns a record seven green-jersey titles. Sagan is in his longest drought between Tour stage wins since he won zero in 2014 and 2015.

“We are still halfway through the Tour de France, and there are still opportunities to take the jersey back,” Sagan said, according to his Bora-Hansgrohe team.

Less than two hours before the stage started, Tour organizers and the International Cycling Union (UCI) said all of the riders’ coronavirus tests performed on Sunday and Monday returned negative.

However, they announced that director Christian Prudhomme tested positive along with four staff members from four different teams who have been dropped from the race bubble.

The four staff who tested positive work for Cofidis, AG2R La Mondiale, defending champion Egan Bernal’s Ineos Grenadiers and Mitchelton Scott, meaning those four squads were at greater risk of being excluded.

Under the race’s health protocols, anyone who tests positive has to leave the race and any team with two or more positive tests — either rider or staff — within seven days also has to abandon.

Riders and staff are scheduled to be tested again on the next rest day Sept. 15.

The Tour continues with stage 11 on Wednesday, a 104-mile flat day through marshlands that should produce a sprint winner. NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold coverage start at 7 a.m. ET.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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