I had to think long and hard over a headline. Implying that the winner Jonas Vingegaard merely “made it” to Paris might be seen as belittling his achievement. But the context I am after is showing the challenges he faced with the climate, with climate protestors and the fact that Tadej Pogacar wasn’t going to hand over the title without a battle.
We left the race in the South of France after one of the hottest days on record for the Tour.
Stage 16 was a medium mountain stage which saw Israel-Premier Tech continue their ascension out of the World Tour relegation places when Hugo Houle rode away to win the stage. He was ably back by team mate Mike Woods for a Canadian one two.
The next day to Peyragaudes saw Pogacar win the stage without creating any distance between himself and the yellow jersey.
Despite being super confident that the Slovenian would have what it took to come back and win the race overall, his lack of ability to drop Vingegaard made me start to doubt his chances of doing so. This was clear evidence that the Dane had his number and that it would take something really special to dislodge him.
The final mountain stage to the disgraced (based on the evidence of former winners) peak of Hautacam saw Pogacar dropped for good.
After dueling on the way up the penultimate climb, the top two on the overall classification both had sketchy moments on the hot tar going down.
The yellow jersey had his foot out to save him from snaking into a ditch before Pogacar went over and crashed.
Vingegaard waited for his rival and when he caught up they shook hands as if to say “no more, this could get silly and dangerous“.
They did battle it out on the final climb before Wout Van Aert (who else?) delivered a monster turn for his leader which saw him win alone.
Christophe LaPorte got reward for all of his efforts in this race and across the season to date with the only French stage win after escaping in Cahors. Jumbo continued to monopolise the stage wins with Van Aert taking the final time trial for the second year in succession before Jasper Philipsen made it two stage wins in Paris.
There are those in the media calling this the best Tour ever. I think that might be a bit steep based on 1989 (and others!). But it was exciting from first to last and raced continually.
The only real off day was stage 15 but with the alps in the riders legs and a 40 degree, baking hot stage between them and the second rest day that can be understood.
I really enjoyed it and the race had a worthy winner in Jonas Vingegaard. Whether he is starting a dynasty or will be a one off winner, only next summer will be able to tell us.
Stage winners and leaders
|2||2||–||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE Team Emirates||800||380||40″||2:43|
|3||3||–||THOMAS Geraint||INEOS Grenadiers||675||340||7:22|
|4||4||–||GAUDU David||Groupama – FDJ||575||300||4″||13:39|
|5||5||–||VLASOV Aleksandr||BORA – hansgrohe||475||280||15:46|
|6||6||–||QUINTANA Nairo||Team Arkéa Samsic||400||260||6″||16:33|
|7||7||–||BARDET Romain||Team DSM||325||240||4″||18:11|
|8||8||–||MEINTJES Louis||Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux||275||220||6″||18:44|
|9||9||–||LUTSENKO Alexey||Astana Qazaqstan Team||225||210||22:56|
|10||10||–||YATES Adam||INEOS Grenadiers||175||200||24:52|