‘Euphoric’ Vingegaard targets third Tour de France triumph

euphoric vingegaard targets third tour de france triumph

Jonas Vingegaard said he felt “euphoric” after surviving Saturday’s penultimate stage of the Tour de France to virtually clinch his second successive title.

After crossing the line high in the Vosges, Vingegaard now only needs to ride into Paris Sunday to pull on the yellow jersey beneath the Arc de Triomphe as winner of the world’s greatest bike race again.

“It ain’t over til it’s over, so the feeling now is even more euphoric than when I took the big lead on stage 17,” said the Jumbo-Visma rider.

“The Tour de France is the greatest race in the world,” beamed the 26-year-old.

“There’s something so special about it and I can tell you I’ll be back again next year to try and win it again,” said Vingegaard.

Two-time champion Tadej Pogacar won the 20th stage but Denmark’s Vingegaard leads the Slovenian by 7min 29sec ahead of Sunday’s ceremonial ride to the finish line on the Champs Elysees in the French capital.

“I don’t know what happened to me. I took on too much this year and after two weeks I started to look as white as this shirt,” said runner-up Pogacar, pointing to his best under-25’s rider white jersey.

“I’ve been feeling crappy since that mountain (Col de Loze stage 17). But I got my colour back today,” he said.

The pair went head-to-head over 30 mountains on the 3400km route until Vingegaard’s focus overcame Pogacar’s cavalier approach.

‘One big goal’

“This was my one big goal of the year and it’s nice to have finished it off,” said Vingegaard.

British rider and Pogacar UAE teammate Adam Yates is in third place and his twin brother Simon is fourth. Spain’s Carlos Rodriguez rounds out the top five.

There were six mountains to negotiate on Saturday with the last two category one climbs.

Pogacar had promised an explosive finale, but he was tracked every kilometre of the way by his Danish rival.

Vingegaard and Pogacar have thrilled fans with their struggle for supremacy on the 21-day race which started in Bilbao in the hills of the Basque Country.

As they crossed the Pyrenees, rolled through the vineyards of Bordeaux and Beaujolais in a heatwave, and climbed the dormant volcano at Puy de Dome, the tension mounted as they remained separated by just seconds.

The Dane however crushed Pogacar in the key stage 16 time-trial on Tuesday, putting 1min 38sec into him on the 22.4km run with a white knuckle ride.

The following day, on the hardest mountain stage, Pogacar cracked, shouting into his team radio “I’m dead, I’m gone.”

And so it proved to be as he lost almost seven more minutes on the steep and punishingly long climb to Courchevel.

Runner-up to Pogacar in 2021, the softly-spoken Vingegaard was the only rider to challenge the Slovenian prodigy in the high mountains.

In 2022, Vingegaard went one step higher and won the title at altitude, and it proved to be the case again in 2023.

Saving face

Adam Yates won the opening stage back in Bilbao, and was on flying form at this Tour. With a podium awaiting alongside Pogacar that is a decent return given Pogacar broke a wrist in April and Yates has just joined Team UAE.

“We didn’t win but we got another stage and two places on the podium,” said Yates after riding into the press room on his black bike.

“When you have a leader like Tadej it’s so enjoyable.”

Huge crowds turned out to greet local hero Thibaut Pinot who was cheered up every mountain as he finished seventh on the day.

Authored by Afp via Breitbart July 22nd 2023