Friday, October 7, 2022

Jonas Vingegaard wins Tour de France

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Jonas Vingegaard completed an improbable run to a Tour de France victory Sunday only three years after turning professional, with the 25-year-old Danish rider soaking in the atmosphere along the Champs-Élysées in Paris to close the 21st and final stage in cycling’s most prestigious event.

Competing in the Tour de France for just the second time, Vingegaard secured the triumph after claiming the penultimate stage by such a comfortable margin that no other rider was able to make up enough ground to overtake him on the traditional celebratory closing day.

Vingegaard’s winning time was 79:32.29. Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar took second place (+3.34), and Geraint Thomas of Great Britain was third (+8.13) in the three-week event.

Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen captured the final stage for his second stage win by several bike lengths, becoming the only sprinter with multiple stage victories at this year’s race. Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands placed second in the sprint ahead of third-place Alexander Kristoff from Norway.

The festivities also featured women back in the world’s most viewed in-person sports spectacle. The Tour de France Femmes began Sunday with 24 teams of six riders vying for the title in the eight-day, 640-mile stage race ending in the Vosges Mountains, marking the fifth time in 119 years of the Tour de France with female competitors.

Vingegaard placed second in Saturday’s time trial in 3:34 behind Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert. His time, however, left him so far in front of his closest pursuers that shortly after finishing he was able to begin his coronation by embracing his partner, Trine Hansen, and their 2-year-old daughter, Frida.

He did the exact same almost immediately after crossing the line Sunday.

“Having my two girls on the finish line means even more to me,” he told reporters Saturday following an especially grueling stage amid conditions that have set records for high temperatures in the United Kingdom over the past week. “I’m just so happy and proud.”

Despite the sweltering elements, including temperatures rising into the triple digits, Vingegaard managed to extend his lead during the 20th stage comprising countless hills and mountain climbs in what was one of the most demanding tests in Tour de France history.

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Among the closest challengers to Vingegaard was Pogacar, who was seeking a third consecutive victory. He had been dueling with Vingegaard, the runner-up in last year’s Tour de France, for the lead until the last few stages.

Vingegaard surged at last year’s competition after Jumbo-Visma’s No. 1 rider, Primoz Roglic, dropped out following a crash. His performance on the heels of Roglic’s departure featured one of the fastest times on the Mont Ventoux climb.

The storybook finish this time for Vingegaard is all the more compelling given in 2019 he had been working part-time in a packing plant in Denmark, gutting and cleaning fish. He also was employed at a fish auction, often waking well before sunrise and laboring in frigid temperatures.

Van Aert, meanwhile, finished this year’s Tour de France wearing the green jersey, which is awarded to the competitor who amasses the most points in stage times and midrace sprints. Van Aert won three stages while also assisting his teammate during the rugged Hautacam climb, breaking away and controlling the pace.

Pogacar was unable stay attached and eventually faded as Vingegaard and van Aert continued to climb, keeping the Jumbo-Visma team well ahead in winning its sixth of 20 stages.

“I think the battle between me and Jonas was really something special, and Jonas was really something special,” Pogacar, 23, said. “It’s going to be an interesting couple of years ahead for us.”



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