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From the Grand Exit in Copenhagen to the denouement in Paris, a surprised nation has been clinging to the tails of Jonas Vingegaard’s jacket. On Sunday, the Champs-Élysées turned decidedly Danish, with a splash of brash Slovenian and a contact of deadpan Welshman.
Vingegaard arrived in Paris transported by his nearly infallible Jumbo-Visma staff to win the Tour de France at his second try, from defending champion Tadej Pogacar and the peloton’s Mister Consistency, Geraint Thomas, who scored his third podium end in 4 years.
Twelve months in the past, Pogacar, the Slovenian prodigy who managed the big-budget United Arab Emirates staff, was anticipated to win the yellow jerseys in sequence. Now, nevertheless, the panorama has modified and it’s the unflappable Dane and his big-budget staff that appear invincible.
As Belgian Jasper Philipsen raced to his second stage win within the frantic closing race to the end, Vingegaard and his team-mates unfold out throughout the cobbles and joined in to bask of their success. With six stage wins and the yellow and inexperienced jerseys, some dazzling climbing speeds and collective dominance, it has been a outstanding efficiency.
Inevitably, at his conventional winners’ press convention, the brand new champion was requested if such full command of the peloton may very well be relied upon, given the context of the game. “We’re completely clear, each single one in every of us,” Vingegaard stated.
“I can say that to every of you. None of us are taking something unlawful. I believe why we’re so good is the preparation we do.
“We take the excessive altitude camps to the following step. We do all the things with materials, meals and coaching. The staff is the very best on this. That is why you must belief.”
His teammate Wout van Aert, winner of Saturday’s closing time trial at Rocamadour, was much less receptive. “That is a bullshit query,” he stated. “As a result of we’re acting at this stage, we’ve got to defend ourselves. I do not perceive
“Biking has modified. I do not like that we hold having to reply this. We have now to move controls at each second of the yr, not solely within the Tour de France, but additionally in our properties. If you happen to have a look at our staff, how we’ve got developed over these years, it has not come from nowhere.
The principle casualty of their collective power was defending champion Pogacar, dominant and explosive in 2020 and 2021, who this yr appeared, at instances, a blunt instrument in comparison with Vingegaard’s efficiency within the Tour’s summit finishes.
The Slovenian chief of the UAE Emirates staff, who began successful main races as early as February and after successful two phases and his native nationwide tour in June, appeared positive he was the rider to beat, displaying flashes of immaturity that got here again to hang-out him. .
The important thing second got here on stage 11 to the Col du Granon, a high-altitude crawl of a few of the greatest alpine passes, during which an remoted Pogacar miscalculated his ways, mugged the TV cameras, however then paid for it. moments later when he was unable to reply to Vingegaard’s acceleration. After that, he was continually on the defensive.
From there, Vingegaard was in management and was even in a position to survive the lack of two teammates, Primoz Roglic and Steven Kruiswijk, and settle for the touring function of Van Aert, displaying no indicators of faze. Pogacar suffered the lack of key helpers, George Bennett and Rafal Majka, however it’s debatable whether or not any of these achieved climbers would have modified the destiny of the yellow jersey.
Thomas, in what some consider to be the very best efficiency of his profession, endured all of the sound and fury between the 2 essential contenders, to ship a traditional efficiency of character and resilience. By way of successful the race, he was by no means in competition, however his expertise, coupled along with his capability to maintain his head when everybody else generally misplaced theirs, rewarded him with third place, though extra eight minutes from the winner.
Thomas was uncertain if this could be his final Tour de France. “I do not know,” he responded when requested. “I’ve a contract till the tip of subsequent yr. I may cease, I may do another. I nonetheless benefit from the races, I nonetheless take pleasure in this race, the largest race on the planet. By no means say By no means. We’ll see.”
He additionally reiterated that he had at all times believed in himself. “The top of final yr was very powerful mentally for numerous causes. After I began it again up it was steady, which is regular. He was positive if he saved working laborious he may very well be within the combine. I by no means put a quantity on it. I at all times thought it may very well be there or round. As for the staff, it is extra of a difficulty for them. I am comfortable to be within the combine.”
As for the Tour itself, it sits uncomfortably in up to date French tradition. Praised by President Macron for his continued significance to France’s sense of heritagehowever more and more globalized, it appeared painfully misplaced at instances this July.
When teenage local weather protesters have been brutally manhandled by senior race officers after blocking the trail of stage 10, in full view of Haute Savoie’s disappearing glaciers, the disconnect between the inexperienced machine and the company big was laid naked.
There isn’t a doubt that, as its reputation grows world wide with youthful and extra various audiences, the Tour might want to do extra.
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