Jonas Vingegaard takes control of Tour de France with big victory in time trial
Jonas Vingegaard seized control of the Tour de France with a huge victory in the stage 16 time trial.
The defending champion began the day just 10 seconds ahead of two-time winner Tadej Pogacar after two mountain stages over the weekend failed to find any meaningful difference between the two men who have won the previous three Tours.
But in the only race against the clock this year, Vingegaard blew away the entire field over the 22.4 kilometres between Passy and Combloux, putting 98 seconds into Pogacar to open up a significant lead with only two mountain stages remaining.
After much speculation over tactics, Pogacar chose to change bikes midway through the stage, getting on to his regular road bike for the final climb to the finish while Vingegaard stuck to his time trial machine.
Pogacar was already more than 30 seconds down on Vingegaard at that point, and the bike change brought no benefits as Vingegaard only continued to make up time. Given the way the Dane was riding, it surely did not matter what Pogacar was riding – there was no way for him to win this day.
Having started his effort two minutes behind Pogacar, Vingegaard could see his rival up the road by the time they neared the finish – knowing he now has him where he wants him with five days still to go.
Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team-mate Wout van Aert was third on the stage with Simon Yates fifth and Adam Yates seventh.
That result for Adam Yates was enough to move him up to third overall, five seconds ahead of Carlos Rodriguez, although there was little sense of celebration around the UAE Team Emirates bus after Pogacar’s time losses.
It was only a second career time trial win for Vingegaard, and one with massively more significance than the one he took at the Gran Camino at the start of the season.
“I was feeling great today,” Vingegaard said. “I think it’s the best time trial I’ve ever done. I’m really proud of what I did today and really happy about the victory.
“I think today I even surprised myself with the time trial I did. I didn’t expect to do so well.”
Asked if the Tour was now over, Vingegaard added: “No. There’s still a lot of hard stages to come. We have to keep fighting the next days and we’re looking forward to it.”
Pogacar must now regroup, hoping that the Tour is not over by the time they crest the top of the Col de la Loze, the highest point of this year’s race, on Wednesday.
“There was nothing I could do more,” Pogacar said. “Maybe it was not my best day… we’ll see.”
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