Jonas Vingaard entered the last weekend of the Tour de France with his yellow jersey almost assured.
It is the mountain stages that so typically determine the general classification of the Grand Tours, and this edition of the Tour was no exception.
A dominant run on Stage 18 saw Vingaard, with admirable support from Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert, drop two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar on the final ascent in the Pyrenees.
Vingegaard pulled away on this final ascent, leaving Pogacar in his wake, and well over three minutes down in the overall standings in the hunt for the yellow jersey, as the Dane secured just a second victory. stage of the Grand Tour of his career, the first having occurred in July. 13 to give him command of the race.
All that was left for Vingegaard was to safely negotiate the final three stages – two sprint finishes and a time trial – and that’s exactly what he did, marching through Paris on Sunday with his grip on the yellow jersey firmly intact. Now he is the champion, a remarkable feat considering where he comes from.
Pogacar’s Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic was previously Jumbo-Visma’s main prospect, but a stellar team run also represented a handover to Vingaard, the 25-year-old who four years ago worked in a fish factory to supplement his income. . Vingaard was signed to the team based on a remarkable time in a daunting climb in Spain, which was later posted on popular training app Strava.
Jumbo-Visma put in a team performance for the ages. Their plan and subsequent execution was nearly perfect. Even the loss of Roglic, whose attention will now turn to winning another Vuelta a Espana title, couldn’t derail this central unit until the final week.
Vingegaard’s first victory, on stage 11 of the Col du Granon, was the result of Jumbo-Visma’s early attack, prompting Pogacar to respond and draining the Slovenian’s energy as the 23-year-old swerved. turned out to be a mere mortal after all. .
Even when compared to when Team Sky (now INEOS Grenadiers) dominated Le Tour, Jumbo-Visma’s performance this time around has been something special. As a result, they are the first team to win the yellow, polka dot (Vingegaard) and green (Van Aert) jerseys in the same edition of the race since Faema achieved the feat in 1969, thanks to the great Eddy Merckx .
Vingegaard is the second Dane to win the Tour de France after Bjarne Riis in 1996, and it is the first time since 1992 that the winner of the race has come from the country from which she started, with the first three stages of this Tour having taken place through Denmark.
Not since 2006 (Michael Rasmussen) has a Dane won the polka dot jersey, although it is the third consecutive Tour that the GC leader has also won the King of the Mountains classification, Pogacar having done so in 2020 and 2021. Prior to 2020, this had only happened three times in the previous 50 races – Merckx in 1970, Carlos Sastre in 2008 and Chris Froome in 2015.
Van Aert, meanwhile, is another star. The 27-year-old finished second in the first three stages before finally claiming victory in the fourth moment of the request, and his decisive attack on Hautacam gave Vingaard the platform he needed to end to the hopes of Pogacar.
A sprinter by trade but a brilliant climber to boot, Van Aert never looked likely to give up the green jersey, easily fending off Jasper Philipsen and Pogacar for that award. He is the first Belgian rider to win the Tour de France points classification since Tom Boonen in 2007.
As for Pogacar, three straight wins proved one triumph too many, but comparing the talents of UAE Team Emirates with Jumbo-Visma, their achievements so far must be considered even more remarkable.
The white jersey, which Pogacar has won each of the last two years for the best young rider, has been retained. He has led the youth standings in each of the last 51 Tour de France races (from stage 13 in 2020 to stage 21 in 2022), which is the longest streak of consecutive races in first place in a specific classification.
Pogacar will surely be back to reclaim his crown in 2023 and with Vingaard could dominate for years to come, but don’t count on Tom Pidcock vying for a shirt one day.
On his Grand Tour debut, the 22-year-old Briton made a strong impression. His triumph over the famous Alpe d’Huez will remain in the record books. He not only broke the 100 km/h mark on a descent, but became the youngest mountain stage winner in Tour history, breaking a 38-year-old record held by Lucho Herrera.
Pidcock, who won gold in mountain biking at the Tokyo Olympics, is the 15th British rider to win a Tour de France stage, but only the second to do so on Alpe d’Huez after Geraint Thomas, who 36 years old fought for a brilliant third place in the general classification.
It could well be the swansong of the 2018 Tour champion, as another campaign veteran, Nairo Quintana, came sixth overall. It is Quintana’s first top 10 on the Grand Tour since the 2019 Vuelta a Espana, and his best performance in this race since 2016.