Rarely has a team dominated the Tour de France as completely as Jonas Wingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma did in this year’s race. Wut van Aert, an amateur cyclist, a racer even more accomplished than his Danish leader, still has a chance for another stage win as the peloton races towards the Champs-Élysées early Sunday evening.
The Tour itself has already been won, Wingegaard relaxed enough to smile incredulously as he crossed the finish line of the penultimate stage of Saturday’s Individual Time Trial, in which he cleared the distance over two-time Tour champion Tadej Pogacar of the UAE team, albeit by only a few seconds. .
With Van Aert scoring another stage win, Wingegaard sealed his first Tour de France victory in the final time trial of the 2022 race, from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour, though not without a thrilling moment when he almost crashed around a corner. bend.
“I didn’t really feel like I was taking a big risk, but in the corner the surface was uneven and I took the wrong angle, so yeah, it was a miss,” he said. “After that, I thought that the scene [win] was a bonus. There were only two or three turns left, so I was very relaxed.”
However, he underlined his dominance over Pogacar, the outgoing Tour champion, by extending his lead over the Slovenian by another eight seconds and winning the Tour, barring disaster, by nearly three and a half minutes.
The 25-year-old Dane also won the last mountain stage against Otakama on Thursday and never once showed any vulnerability despite Pogacar’s numerous attacks. However, Pogacar and his crew were criticized by some in the Tour convoy for arriving “over the top” on the Tour. The 23-year-old started winning in February, and this form continued until June, when he won his national tour. But at times during that Tour de France, he felt like he was missing a bit of the vanguard that had brought him his last two victories.
“I’m glad it’s over,” Pogacar said. “It was a good three weeks with its ups and downs. We were unlucky as a team, but I think the fight between me and Jonas was really something special. We have an interesting couple of years ahead of us.”
While Van Aert’s talent led him to another stage win, his third this year, in the final “race of truth”, the reality is that he was the star of this year’s Tour, while his less flamboyant teammate from Denmark showed resilience. , endurance and infallibility that distinguish all Tour champions.
As for all the participants in the peloton, it was a two-horse race dominated by a duel between the defending champion, Pogacar and Vingegor.
After the time trial, Pogacar admitted that he had made “some mistakes” and that he needed to learn from them. At least for now, the Dane has an advantage.
Together they have won four of five top-level Tour finishes and Ineos Grenadiers’ Tom Pidcock played gooseberry with his breakout success at L’Alpe d’Huez. While Pidcock was explosive, his veteran teammate Geraint Thomas was the Mister Consistency of the Tour.
“I’ve always been pretty consistent,” said Thomas, who dropped down to finish 41st in 2021 after crashing. “I think going back to last year, being on the podium is going to be really special.”
However, the Welsh rider, displaying the maturity and cunning that have always characterized his best performances, was at times reduced to the role of an interested observer. Despite this, and despite the ambivalence towards him from the management of his Ineos Grenadiers team, Thomas clung to his third podium in four rounds.
Thomas acknowledged that with only ceremonial circuits of the Champs Elysees ahead, it might be time to celebrate, but added that he would be happy to wait until Sunday evening.
“In the past, when Frumie [Chris Froome] won, the protocol was to drink as much as you want, but not for me this year,” he said. “When I won, I limited myself to two. I will do the same tonight as it can be hard Paris if you pass out mentally.
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