'Baby Cannibal' Pogacar wins Le Tour again

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Tadej Pogacar has become the youngest rider to win back-to-back Tour de France titles after some vintage racing drew comparisons with cycling's greatest.

The 22-year-old Slovenian, who won the Tour on his debut last year, hammered his rivals in the Alps with a long-range attack on stage eight, reminiscent of the event in the 1980s, and stayed in control for the rest of the race.

He beat Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard by five minutes 20 seconds as Ecuador's Richard Carapaz took third place, 7:03 off the pace as his Ineos Grenadiers team failed to spark once again.

Unheralded West Australian Ben O'Connor was fourth, 10:02 adrift of Pogacar, in his debut tilt at the most celebrated of cycling's grand tours.

The only Australians to finish higher in the general classification than O'Connor are Cadel Evans and Richie Porte.

"Would you have bet money on me coming fourth in the Tour? I don't think so," O'Connor said to reporters before the final stage of the race.

Pogacar finished Sunday's 21st and final stage safe in the bunch as Belgian Wout van Aert prevailed in the sprint to beat compatriot Jasper Philipsen and Briton Mark Cavendish who were second and third, respectively.

"I'm going speak from the heart," said Pogacar on the final podium.

"Thank you to everybody who came along during the three weeks. It was amazing to be riding along the route."

Pogacar watched from the inside of the bunch on the Champs Elysees, raising his arms as he crossed the line.

"I see him as the new Cannibal," said five-time Tour champion Eddy Merckx, who earned that nickname due to his insatiable appetite for victory and won his first Tour in 1969 at the age of 23.

While Pogacar says he doesn't like comparisons, the UAE Emirates rider won two mountain stages in the Pyrenees and an individual time trial - a testament to his all-round qualities.

He finished the Tour with the white jersey for the best under-25 rider in the race and with the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification, just like last year.

The green jersey went to Cavendish after the Briton took his tally of career stage wins to a record-equalling 34 with Merckx - four victories coming in this year's race.

After losing the first mass sprint of the race, Cavendish was untouchable, avoiding the multiple crashes that marred this year's Tour and sent his potential main rival, Australia's Caleb Ewan, home after the third stage.

Pogacar's dominance was helped by the misfortunes of two of his biggest rivals, last year's runner-up Primoz Roglic and former Tour champion Geraint Thomas, who tumbled during the crash-marred first week of racing and never recovered.

Meanwhile, 2019 champion Egan Bernal skipped the Tour this year after his Giro d'Italia victory in May.

The Colombian climber is just 24, has excellent time trial abilities and should be Pogacar's main rival in the years to come.

Pogacar will now fly to the Tokyo Olympics where he will be among the favourites for the gold medal in the road race.

The last days of the Tour de France were marked by a potential doping scandal as a French prosecutor in Marseille opened an investigation into the Bahrain Victorious team after the outfit's accommodation and vehicles were searched by police on Wednesday.

Bahrain Victorious said they were cooperating with the investigation.

with AAP and AP

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