Tour de France: Champion Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma soar to the summit as Pogacar falls short

By Sports Desk July 24, 2022

Jonas Vingegaard went into the final weekend of the Tour de France with his yellow jersey all but assured.

It is the mountain stages that so typically settle the general classification in Grand Tours, and this edition of Le Tour proved no different.

A dominant ride on stage 18 saw Vingegaard, 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 powered away on that last climb, leaving Pogacar in his wake, and well over three minutes behind overall in the hunt for the yellow jersey, as the Dane collected just a second Grand Tour stage win of his career, the first having come on July 13 to put him in command of the race.

That left Vingegaard merely needing to safely negotiate the final three stages – two sprint finishes and a time trial – and he did just that, parading into Paris on Sunday with his grip on the yellow jersey firmly intact. Now he is the champion, a remarkable feat considering where he has come from.

Pogacar's Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic has previously been Jumbo-Visma's main hope, but an exceptional team ride has also represented a passing of the baton to Vingegaard, the 25-year-old who four years ago was working at a fish factory to supplement his income. Vingegaard was recruited by the team based on a remarkable time up a daunting climb in Spain, which was subsequently posted to the popular training application Strava.

Jumbo-Visma have turned in a team performance for the ages. Their plan, and subsequent execution, has been near-perfect. Even the loss of Roglic, whose attention will now turn to winning yet another Vuelta a Espana title, could not derail this powerhouse unit heading into the final week.

 

Vingegaard's first win, on stage 11 up the Col du Granon, came as a result of Jumbo-Visma attacking early, luring Pogacar into responding, and draining the Slovenian's energy as the 23-year-old was proven to be a mere mortal after all.

Even when stacked up against the days of 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 at the same edition of the race since Faema managed 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 been a native of the country where it started, with the first three stages of this Tour having taken place across Denmark.

Not since 2006 (Michael Rasmussen) has a Dane won the polka jot jersey, though it is the third successive edition of Le Tour that the GC leader has also claimed the King of the Mountains classification, with Pogacar having done so in 2020 and 2021. Before 2020, it had happened only three times across 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 in second place in the opening three stages before finally claiming victory at the fourth time of asking, and his decisive attack on Hautacam gave Vingegaard the platform he needed to end Pogacar's hopes.

A sprinter by trade but a brilliant climber to boot, Van Aert never looked likely to relinquish the green jersey, easily fending off Jasper Philipsen and Pogacar for that prize. He is the first Belgian rider to win the points classification of the Tour de France since Tom Boonen in 2007.

As for Pogacar, three in a row proved one triumph too many, but when you contrast the talents of UAE Team Emirates with Jumbo-Visma, his achievements so far must be considered even more remarkable.

The white jersey, which Pogacar won in each of the last two years for the best young rider, was retained. He has been leading the youth classification over each of the last 51 racedays in the Tour de France (from stage 13 in 2020 to stage 21 in 2022), which is the longest run of consecutive racedays in the first place of a specific classification.

 

Pogacar will surely be back out to regain his crown in 2023 and along with Vingegaard could dominate for years to come, though do not count out Tom Pidcock from one day contesting for a jersey.

On his Grand Tour debut, the 22-year-old Briton has mightily impressed. His triumph on the famous Alpe d'Huez will go down in the record books. He not only broke the 100km/h mark on a descent, but became the youngest stage winner on the mountain in Le Tour history, breaking a 38-year record held by Lucho Herrera.

Pidcock, who won gold on the mountain bike at the Tokyo Olympics, is the 15th British rider to win a Tour de France stage, but just the second to do so on the Alpe d'Huez after Geraint Thomas, who at 36 has battled to a brilliant third-place finish overall.

It might well be the 2018 champion's swan song at Le Tour, while another veteran campaigner, Nairo Quintana, came in sixth in the general classification. That is Quintana's first top-10 Grand Tour finish since the 2019 Vuelta a Espana, and his best performance in this race since 2016.

Related items

  • Sinner thrashes home favourite Gasquet to make French Open third round Sinner thrashes home favourite Gasquet to make French Open third round

    Jannik Sinner cruised into the French Open third round after making light work of home favourite Richard Gasquet in a straight-sets victory on Wednesday.

    The world number two overcame Christopher Eubanks in his first Roland-Garros meeting and had similar ease against French veteran Gasquet on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    Having triumphed at the Australian Open in January, Sinner will be dreaming of a second major title after his convincing 6-4 6-2 6-4 success in the French capital.

    Buoyed on with confidence from a straight-sets win against Eubanks on Monday, Sinner stole a decisive break at 3-3 in the first set to undo 37-year-old Gasquet.

    Gasquet, a 16-time ATP Tour champion, struggled to respond after that opening blow, holding his service just twice in a one-sided second set.

    Sinner continued to dictate play from deep on the court, pulling Gasquet apart at will to tee up a routine win in just two hours and 17 minutes.

    Data Debrief: Sinner riding major wave

    Fresh from his major-winning exploits in Australia, Sinner is a remarkable 9-0 in grand slam competition this year.

    The 22-year-old extended to a 12-1 record against players ranked outside the top 10 at Roland-Garros, while he now has 26 wins and just one loss against Frenchmen since August 2020.

  • Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory

    Ayoub El Kaabi was the hero as Olympiacos won their first major European honour in history as they snatched a dramatic 1-0 extra-time victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

    After nothing could separate the sides inside 90 minutes, talisman El Kaabi scored a 116th-minute winner at the AEK Arena as they became the first Greek side to win a major European competition.

    Once again, Fiorentina fell at the final hurdle of this competition, with La Viola also losing out to West Ham in the Prague showpiece last season.

    However, the success belonged to Olympiacos and head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, who secured continental glory in successive seasons following his Europa League triumph with Sevilla this time last year.

    Daniel Podence tested Pietro Terracciano early on before Fiorentina thought they had opened the scoring just nine minutes into the final.

    Cristiano Biraghi's cross crept into Konstantinos Tzolakis' bottom-right corner, but Nikola Milenkovic was ruled offside for his position in front of the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

    Despite their celebrations being cut short, Fiorentina continued with the greater attacking impetus throughout the first half.

    Yet La Viola's dominance paid little dividends as Giacomo Bonaventura – their scorer in last season’s final defeat to West Ham – wasted the best chance, shooting straight at Tzolakis from close range after 21 minutes.

    Opportunities remained elusive after the break but Fiorentina again went close in the 69th minute as Dodo found Christian Kouame, whose scuffed effort was pushed away by Tzolakis.

    Olympiacos almost struck 11 minutes later when Francisco Ortega's free-kick was met by Iborra, but the 36-year-old's header missed the inside Terracciano's right-hand post as the final headed for extra-time.

    Mendilibar had earlier introduced former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, who almost came back to haunt his old club in the 96th minute, when cutting inside before fizzing a strike that Terracciano tipped away.

    A penalty shoot-out appeared likely when Tzolakis denied Jonathan Ikone, until El Kaabi ghosted in to nod home Santiago Hezze's cross with just four minutes remaining and send Olympiacos' fans into ecstasy after a lengthy VAR check for offside in Athens.

  • Swiatek blames wandering mind after ousting Osaka in French Open thriller Swiatek blames wandering mind after ousting Osaka in French Open thriller

    Iga Swiatek acknowledged her mind was not always in Wednesday's match as the world number one survived a French Open scare against Naomi Osaka.

    The three-time Roland-Garros champion appeared set for an early exit on Court Philippe-Chatrier after trailing 4-1 in the deciding set.

    Matters worsened for the Polish tennis star when Osaka mustered a 5-3 lead, but Japan's four-time major winner relinquished a match point with Swiatek on the ropes.

    The defending French Open champion responded in blistering style, eventually triumphing 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 7-5 to reach the third round unscathed.

    After a shock to the system and nearing an early exit, Swiatek said she struggled to focus at times in Paris.

    "For sure I felt for most of the match that I wasn't really here and now," Swiatek said.

    "My mind was flying around sometimes, but when I was really under the biggest pressure I was able to focus more and play better, not thinking about what the score is and that I was really close to losing.

    "I just kept going forward and I hope that my game is going to get better because of that."

    Aged 22 years and 363 days, Swiatek is the third-youngest women's player, after Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, to win 16 consecutive matches at the French Open during the Open Era.

    Victory also marked her 30th win at Roland-Garros, as many as Seles before turning 23.

    Only Graf (47), Sanchez Vicario (39), Gabriela Sabatini (34) and Martina Hingis (31) have registered more wins when under the age of 23 at this event during the Open Era.

    "For sure this match was really intense," Swiatek added in her on-court interview.

    "Much more intense for the second round than I ever expected. Naomi played amazing tennis, with a really loose hand – maybe she's gonna be a clay-court specialist in a while."

    The Pole has also now won 69 of her 70 completed WTA main-draw matches on clay after winning the opening set.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.