Jonas Vingegaard wraps up repeat Tour de France title marked by historic dominance
Jonas Vingegaard’s first Tour de France win last year heralded his breakthrough. His repeat title this month, particularly over two days this past week, showed that he’s a dominant force.
Vingegaard, a 26-year-old from Denmark, wrapped up the title on the 21st and last stage Sunday, the largely ceremonial ride into Paris, finishing on the Champs-Élysées.
“It’s been a long journey, but it also went by so fast,” Vingegaard said of the last three weeks.
Vingegaard’s final margin of victory over 2020 and 2021 Tour champ Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia was 7 minutes, 29 seconds, the largest at the Tour since 2014.
The overall podium was rounded out by Brit Adam Yates, who held off brother Simon and Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez for third place.
Belgian Jordi Meeus won the last stage in the usual bunch sprint on the Champs-Élysées, edging Jasper Philipsen, who had won four sprint finishes earlier in the Tour.
Vingegaard, who worked in a fish-packing facility to supplement his early cycling career, took the drama out of a duel with Pogacar early last week.
He had the second-smallest lead entering the final week of a Tour in the last 50 years: 10 seconds over the Slovenian.
Then he won Tuesday’s 14-mile time trial by 98 seconds, the biggest rout in a Tour time trial by per mile average since 1962, according to ProCyclingStats.com.
The next day, Pogacar cracked early on the final climb of the Tour’s “Queen Stage” with four ascents of category two and higher totaling more than 5,000 meters of elevation gain.
Vingegaard added another 5 minutes, 47 seconds, to his lead, effectively clinching the title with four stages to spare (three competitive, one in the mountains).
“I really appreciate the battle I had with Tadej,” Vingegaard said Saturday.
Vingegaard went from packing fish to signing with Jumbo-Visma in 2019. He made his Grand Tour debut with a 46th-place finish in the 2020 Vuelta a Espana.
In his Tour de France debut eight months later, he ascended to team leader after Primoz Roglic crashed badly in the third stage and withdrew before the ninth.
In a foreshadowing, Vingegaard dropped Pogacar on the famous Mont Ventoux en route to a second-place finish by Tour’s end, a distant 5:20 behind the Slovenian.
Then last year, Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma denied Pogacar’s three-peat bid in the Alps and the Pyrenees.
The Slovenian Pogacar had an awesome early 2023, winning Paris-Nice, the Tour of Flanders, the Amstel Gold Race and La Flèche Wallonne. Then in April he underwent surgery for a broken wrist, causing him to miss the major Tour prep races.
Meanwhile, Vingegaard won one of those tune-ups, June’s Criterium du Dauphine, by the largest margin in 30 years.
There was hope that Pogacar could make this Tour competitive. He came back to win his national championships a week before the Grand Depart in Bilbao, Spain. Plus, his UAE Team Emirates outfit added Yates to guide him through the mountains.
It wasn’t enough. Vingegaard went from a revelation in 2021 to the leader of the world’s best team in 2022 to a truly dominant force this past Tuesday and Wednesday.
Vingegaard can now start seeking a place among legends. Next year, he can bid to join a select group of men to win three consecutive Tours, most recently Chris Froome, Miguel Indurain and Eddy Merckx.
Still, there are questions.
How would Vingegaard fare if he didn’t have the best team in cycling supporting him? Namely, American Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert, a Swiss Army knife cyclist from Belgium. (The time trial rout may have answered that.)
Can he win the other two Grand Tours — the Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia? (Does that matter to him?)
Can Pogacar claw back into the rivalry? (He is two years younger.)
For now, Vingegaard can relax and celebrate once again.
“Of course, I hope to come back next year maybe already to see if I can take the third win,” he said.