A second crown for Vingegaard at the Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard won his second consecutive Tour de France on Sunday in Paris after a 110e edition first punctuated by his fierce duel with Tadej Pogacar, then crushed by his omnipotence.

Like last year, the 26-year-old Dane won ahead of his Slovenian rival, with a comfortable margin of 7 minutes and 29 seconds, the widest gap since 2014. Briton Adam Yates completed the podium.

The leader of the Jumbo-Visma team, who made the difference in the Alps earlier this week, was able to savor his triumph during the traditional parade of the 21e and last step.

After having toasted with his teammates at the head of a slow-moving peloton, he was able to witness, without really shaking given his huge lead in the general classification, a final offensive by Pogacar on the Champs Elysées.

Under a gray and low sky, the Slovenian, an incorrigible attacker, spent a dozen kilometers in the lead on the cobblestones, before returning to the ranks for good.

The teams of sprinters were then able to set off to propel their fastest man towards a prestigious success on the most beautiful avenue in the world.

And it was the Belgian Jordi Meeus who signed the greatest success of his career by surprising his compatriot, the green jersey Jasper Philipsen, ultra-dominant since the start of the Grande Boucle, at the photo finish.

Vingegaard crossed the line a few meters behind, having dominated the 2023 Tour with an authority that contrasts with his slender figure and shy character.

Fire, the “inseparable”

At 26, the former employee of a fish market has asserted himself, given confidence by his victory last year. Even if he remains a man and a fundamentally discreet runner who flees light and society.

But on the asphalt, the Dane made everyone agree in an extremely tough Tour de France, both in terms of the profile of the course and the speed with which the peloton swallowed him.

The first two weeks were as exciting as they were deceptive. From the first stage in Bilbao, the two favorites engaged in a standoff which has long been so close that we thought at one time that it was going to be settled in the octagon of the Champs-Élysées.

The two men surrendered blow for blow. Vingegaard won the first heat at Marie-Blanque. Pogacar the second in Cauterets-Cambasque, followed by a few memorable draws, in the Puy de Dôme, in the Grand Colombier or in Morzine, between two champions who were then called “the inseparable”.

And then no. Exhausted after a truncated preparation because of his wrist fracture at the end of April, Pogacar gave up in two stages. During the Combloux time trial on Tuesday, then the next day in the queen stage to Courchevel where the Slovenian experienced the worst failure of his life, summed up by these few words: “I’m gone, I’m dead” (“I dropped, I died”).

The intensity of the duel then gave way to the time of suspicion when Vingegaard had to answer questions about doping every day, resurfacing without any tangible element but inevitable in a sport long plagued by business.

“I don’t take anything that I wouldn’t give to my two-year-old daughter,” assured the Dane, the boss of his team, Richard Plugge, even adding that his runner was reluctant to take “paracetamol”.

Vingegaard on the Vuelta

To explain the domination of his champion, Plugge referred both to the supposed insufficiencies of the competition, in this case the riders of the Groupama-FDJ team who would drink “big beers” during the rest days, which the French manager Marc Madiot vehemently denied.

But also to the perfection of their own methods, in terms of nutrition, training, equipment, etc.

“I’m not much stronger than last year but I continued to progress and I didn’t experience, unlike 2022, any health problems during the spring,” insisted Vingegaard.

His triumph confirms the victory of a strategy entirely focused on the Tour, with long courses at altitude and the Critérium du Dauphiné as the only springboard, while Pogacar scrapped on the front lines of the Italian and Belgian classics.

“I like to run on all terrains. It corresponds to who I am”, explained the Slovenian who is thinking about “new challenges” for next year.

But Vingegaard also seems to want to try new experiences. In the morning, he announced his participation in the Vuelta at the end of August to attempt a double with the Tour de France / Tour of Spain which has not been achieved since Christopher Froome in 2017.

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