Tour de France: “What a legend”: Vingegaard wins and shocks Pogacar

Three months ago, Jonas Vingegaard was fighting for his life after a fall. On Wednesday, he surprisingly countered an attack by Tour leader Tadej Pogacar – and won the stage.

After the most emotional victory of his career, Jonas Vingegaard was in tears. “It’s obviously very moving for me. Coming back like this after my fall means a lot to me. All the things I’ve been through in the last three months. This would never have been possible without my family,” said the defending Tour de France champion, his voice choked with tears.

A few minutes earlier, the Dane had celebrated his first stage win of the year, inflicting a completely unexpected defeat on his big rival and overall leader Tadej Pogacar. With more than 30 kilometers to go, Pogacar began the extremely demanding climb through the Massif Central – no one could keep up and his lead quickly grew to over 30 seconds.

Surprise in the final sprint

“The attack was too strong,” said Vingegaard. The 27-year-old needed 15 kilometers before he caught up with Pogacar, to the surprise of many observers. And on the final ramp up to the ski resort of Le Loiran he was also the fastest. “I’m surprised that I beat Tadej in the sprint,” said the Dane. Vingegaard is third in the overall rankings, 1:14 minutes behind Pogacar. Between the two rivals lies the Belgian Remco Evenepoel. But he is clearly the moral winner just before the Pyrenees.

At the beginning of April, Vingegaard had a serious fall on a descent in the Tour of the Basque Country. On the first rest day of the Tour, he spoke of being scared to death and thinking about the premature end of his career. He was only able to start training again six weeks before the Tour. “I was happy that he was even taking part in the Tour. And now he’s winning a stage. Wow! What a legend,” said Vingegaard’s team boss Richard Plugge.

Although Pogacar successfully defended the yellow jersey and even extended his lead, the 211-kilometer-long stage with 4,350 meters of elevation gain will probably feel like a defeat. “Now no one should doubt that Jonas is in top form here. It will be great for the fans. I think I can go into the Pyrenees with a lot of confidence,” said Pogacar. And Vingegaard said meaningfully: “The Tour is far from over.”

Vingegaard recovers after attack

Pogacar’s team kept the pace high all day, which led to an astonishing average speed of 42.5 km/h. With just over 30 kilometers to go, the Slovenian launched his attack, which no one could follow at first. He built up a lead of over 30 seconds on Vingegaard and co. “Tadej, no one is reacting, ride at your own pace. Ride with your head,” Pogacar was told via team radio.

But Vingegaard recovered and caught up with the visibly nervous Pogacar 17 kilometers from the finish at the penultimate mountain classification. The overall leader secured the largest time bonus on the pass, but had to leave the larger credit at the finish to Vingegaard.

No chance for the escapees

The day had started brutally after the peloton had allowed themselves a leisurely stage on Tuesday. After the start in Évaux-les-Bains, the one and a half hours of racing were completed at an average speed of almost 50 km/h before the group of the day formed and the situation calmed down somewhat. Pogacar’s UAE team never let the breakaway riders go by more than three minutes and ended the attempt 32 kilometers from the finish. Pogacar’s attack followed just 400 meters later.

After the climbing test in the heart of France, the fastest professionals will be in demand again on Thursday. In Villeneuve-sur-Lot, anything other than a sprint would be a surprise and from a German perspective, Pascal Ackermann and Phil Bauhaus have the next of a total of three chances to win a stage.

Source: Stern

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