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Slovenian powerhouse Tadej Pogačar officially claimed his second Tour de France victory on Sunday after dominating the field for most of the three weeks of the race.
The 22-year-old Pogačar took the overall standings on a rainy eighth stage and never left the lead rider’s yellow jersey, winning three of the 21 stages of the race.
Last year, Pogačar achieved an unexpected victory after his rival Primož Roglič failed in the penultimate time trial stage. At the time, he was the youngest winner on the tour in 116 years.
“I can’t compare the two Tour de France victories, I can’t say which one is more beautiful,” Pogačar said, according to The Associated Press. “This time, I took the yellow jersey a lot earlier. It was totally different.”
Twenty-four-year-old Danish driver Jonas Vingegaard finished second overall, and 28-year-old Ecuadorian star Richard Carapaz finished third. Carapaz is the first Ecuadorian to finish in the top three in the history of the Tour.
Pogačar was one of the favorites to win before the race. Roglič, also from Slovenia, was another favorite, but suffered several accidents early in the race and dropped out to recover from his injuries.
Mark Cavendish resurrects his cycling career
Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish, 36, a native of the Isle of Man, resurrected a career that seemed to be in recession, winning four stages of the tour.
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In doing so, Cavendish achieved a total of 34 Tour de France stage victories in his career, equaling the record set between 1969 and 1975 by Eddy Merckx, who is generally considered the greatest cyclist of all time.
Cavendish burst into tears after his first Tour win this year, his first in five years. He was only selected to be on the team in the last minute after another rider was injured.
“I didn’t think I would go back to this race,” he said in an emotional post-race interview.
American Sepp Kuss makes his way
And this year, American audiences also saw the first American to win a Tour stage since 2011: Sepp Kuss from Durango, Colorado.
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“It’s been tremendous,” said writer Patrick Redford of the website Defector. All things considered. “I mean, he’s 26, so some people might talk about him as the next American Tour winner. He looks incredibly strong.”
Several of the riders on the tour are now reading to travel to Tokyo, where they will participate in this year’s Olympics.