For the second year in a row, Tadej Pogacar rode into Paris for the final stage of Le Tour wearing the yellow jersey. Pogacar from UAE Team Emirates won the 2021 Tour de France after holding off his closest rival by over five minutes.

2021 Tour de France Le Tadej Pogacar Wins Back-to-Back Champion Winner
Le Tour champion Tadej Pogacar leads his teammates from UAE Team Emirates around the Arc de Triomphe in the final stage in Paris at the 2021 Tour de France. (Image: Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

Pogacar won three stages, including two while wearing the yellow jersey. Pogacar, 22, is the youngest back-to-back champion in Tour de France history.

Primoz Roglic crashed twice early in Le Tour during four difficult and messy stages in Brittany. Roglic was the co-favorite at +175 odds to win the 2021 Tour de France with his fellow countryman from Slovenia. Roglic looked like a mummy when he posted a picture of himself wrapped in bandages recovering from severe road rash.

After Roglic’s first crash, Pogacar became the clear-cut consensus favorite to win the prestigious maillot jaune in back-to-back years. Roglic dropped out when the peloton reached the Alps.

2021 Le Tour – Final GC Standings
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 82:56:36
  2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:20
  3. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +7:03
  4. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +10:02
  5. Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +10:13

Jonas Vingegaard, Roglic’s domestique and teammate at Jumbo-Visma, finished second overall. Denmark’s Vingegaard never won a stage and trailed Pogacar by 5:20.

Oddsmakers pegged Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) as the third-highest favorite to win Le Tour behind Roglic and Pogacar. Ineos was shut out with zero stage wins, but Carapaz secured a spot on the final podium with a third-place finish in the GC. Carapaz finished 7:03 behind Pogacar.

The Cannibal from Slovenia

The old guard referred to Pogacar as “Le cannibale” or the cannibal because he just devours the competition.

In 2020, Pogacar waited until the penultimate day of Le Tour to take the lead after winning a time trial in Stage 20. Roglic choked in that time trial, finishing in a disappointing second place. With all eyes on Pogacar in 2021 as the defending champion, Roglic came into this year’s Le Tour with a mission to avenge his loss from last year. However, an early crash doomed Roglic’s chance to finally win a yellow jersey.

Mathieu van der Poel is the grandson Raymond Poulidor, one of Le Tour’s most beloved riders from the 1970s. Van der Poel won Stage 2 and held onto the yellow jersey for nearly a week before Pogacar seized it.

Pogacar obliterated the rest of the GC with a victory in the first time trial in Stage 5. He moved into second overall, but didn’t wrestle away the yellow jersey until the peloton reached the Alps. He took over first place in the GC at Stage 8 and never looked back.

“It’s something just incredible,” said Pogacar. “It’s hard to explain how I feel, it’s something beyond a dream. Last year was really different, there was no pressure, I would’ve been happy with second place. This year I had the yellow jersey from the first week, but I’m proud of both, just the same.”

In the Pyrenees, Pogacar won back-to-back mountain stages when he chased down the breakaway on two separate instances. The defending champion won Stage 17 with a summit finish at the legendary Col du Portet. In Stage 18, Pogacar dominated the punishing Tourmalet with another uphill finish at Luz Ardiden.

2021 Tour de France stage results

Mark Cavendish won four sprint stages on Le Tour this year and tied Eddy Merckx’s record with 34 career-stage wins. Cavendish was denied the record by Wout Van Aert on the final sprint stage in Paris.

Deceuninck-QuickStep won five stages this year, including Julian Alaphilippe’s win in Stage 1 and Cavendish’s four sprint victories. Jumbo-Visma claimed four stage wins, including one by Sepp Kuss with a solo breakaway in Andorra in Stage 15. Kuss became the first American to win a stage on Le Tour in a decade. His teammate, Wout Van Aert, won three stages.

2021 Tour de France – Stage Winners
Stage Winner Type Yellow Jersey
1 Julian Alaphilippe (DQS) Hilly Julian Alaphilippe
2 Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) Hilly Mathieu van der Poel
3 Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) Flat Mathieu van der Poel
4 Mark Cavendish (DQS) Flat Mathieu van der Poel
5 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) Time Trial Mathieu van der Poel
6 Mark Cavendish (DQS) Flat Mathieu van der Poel
7 Matej Mohoric  (Bahrain Victorious) Hilly Mathieu van der Poel
8 Dylan Tuens (Bahrain Victorious) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
9 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
10 Mark Cavendish (DQS) Flat Tadej Pogacar
11 Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
12 Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) Flat Tadej Pogacar
13 Mark Cavendish (DQS) Flat Tadej Pogacar
14 Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) Hilly Tadej Pogacar
15 Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
16 Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe) Hilly Tadej Pogacar
17 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
18 Tadej Pogacar (UAE) Mountain Tadej Pogacar
19 Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) Flat Tadej Pogacar
20 Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) Time Trial Tadej Pogacar
21 Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) Flat Tadej Pogacar

Van Aert won three were different types of stages, including a mountain stage with an impressive double ascent at the legendary Mont Ventoux in Stage 11. Van Aert closed out Le Tour on a high note with back-to-back stage victories in a time trial in Stage 20, and the Stage 21 sprint in Paris.

Check out OG’s comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.