The three riders who made the last Tour de France exceptional – Il Post


The three riders who made the last Tour de France exceptional – Il Post
Written by aquitodovale

At the start of this year’s men’s Tour de France, one of the most exciting ever, there were 176 riders. At the arrival of the last stage, Sunday in Paris, there were 135. Among these, there are three that have stood out for the exceptional performance and the audacity of their way of understanding cycling: if this Tour is been different from the previous ones, and if you are already wondering what the next ones will be like, much of the credit goes to them.

Just three weeks ago, one of the three was expected to be almost unbeatable, sometimes described as the “perfect cyclist” and on more than one occasion even presented as a predestined and compared to Eddy Merckx. It’s Tadej Pogačar, and he finished second.

The other, who in 2018 still worked part-time canning fish in Denmark, a country without mountains or hills, is Jonas Vingegaard, who won the Tour de France and in addition to the yellow jersey he also took the polka dot jersey of best climber.

The third won the green jersey of the points classification (usually the prerogative of sprinters), was awarded as the most combative cyclist, was on the run for a total of almost 700 kilometers, won three stages and detached Pogačar on the climb. It is Wout van Aert, and Vingegaard said of him that he is “the best cyclist in the world”. The two, however, run in the same team, the Jumbo-Visma, undoubtedly the best team of this Tour.

(AP Photo / Thibault Camus)

Tadej Pogačar
He – a 23-year-old Slovenian – was spoken of as a perfect cyclist because in fact he did not seem to have any weaknesses: he had won both the Tour de France in which he had participated and in the meantime he had also managed to win a Giro di Lombardia and a Liège -Bastogne-Liège, suggesting that you have everything you need to win each of the other most important one-day races, the “classic monuments”.

At the beginning of July, onLast ManMichele Pelacci had spoken, for cycling, of “a before and after Pogačar”, of a domain that “seems[va] have no limits “. Net of problems, ailments, falls and various injuries, in reference to Pogačar, one wondered above all how and when he would win this Tour, how many he could win from now on, and how intriguing or perhaps exhausting his domain could become in the eyes of opponents, sponsors, organizers and spectators.

(AP Photo / Daniel Cole)

Pogačar, instead, he finished second. Why Vingegaard, as well as supported by a better team than that of Pogačar, he was stronger than him and broke him uphill on two different occasions (after he had already done so in 2021).

After losing the yellow jersey in the middle of the Tour, Pogačar was very stubborn in trying to get it back. His constant and courageous attempts to attack Vingegaard, who gradually showed himself more and more as the strongest, made this Tour exciting like few others, and possibly created a rivalry that, given the age of the protagonists, could last a long time. long. “They will be interesting years,” said Pogačar.

Jonas Vingegaard
He is 25 years old (and a few months older than those that would have allowed him to win the white jersey of best youngster, which went to Pogačar) and it is possible that until 2020, when Pogačar won his first Tour, his name did not say anything even to rather assiduous fans. In fact, Vingegaard only reached professional cycling in 2019: after growing up in a small fishing town in northern Denmark, after promising but not astonishing beginnings in road cycling, in a career initially alternating with fish canning. other slowed by a broken femur in 2017 and a concussion in 2018.

If Pogačar was appreciated for how he settled in the unusual role of underdog challenger, Vingegaard was able, when in the standings he was 39 seconds behind Pogačar, to risk everything and attack, with his team, from distant.

When he then found himself wearing the yellow jersey and defending it from the many attacks of Pogačar, he was the protagonist with him of stages like not seen in years: in the third and last week of the Tour the two found themselves alone several times. On every occasion, Vingegaard got by and when she got the chance he showed how much stronger than Pogačar he could go.

(AP Photo / Thibault Camus)

Pogačar and Vingegaard were the protagonists of a constant and repeated challenge, in which the Slovenian tried to attack the Dane even tens of kilometers from the finish, creating the conditions for the stages to become lively and unpredictable.

In addition to the pleasure of those who have seen them, the exceptional nature of the match between Pogačar and Vingegaard also lies in the final gaps that everyone else has had in the general classification. While Pogačar was 2 minutes and 43 seconds behind Vingegaard (almost all as a result of his crisis in the eleventh stage), the third – Geraint Thomas, winner of the Tour in 2018 – arrived in Paris with a delay in the overall standings. more than 7 minutes. The fifth was at over 15 minutes, the tenth at nearly 25, the 17th at over an hour.

Wout van Aert
Yet, for Vingegaard, the winner of one of the hardest-fought editions of the hardest cycling race in the world, the best cyclist in the world is Wout van Aert, a 27-year-old Belgian born in Herentals, Flanders.

Van Aert comes from cyclocross – an autumn-winter cycling discipline, which often has to do with mud – and in road cycling he has been able to win in group sprints, on historic climbs, in time trials and also with strenuous escapes from afar. Van Aert is one who has already won a lot in road cycling and tends to be among the favorites of every big day race he chooses to participate in.

His uniqueness lies in the fact that in addition to having won three stages, obtained the green jersey and touched the polka dot one, on this Tour he was also on the run more than anyone else and, moreover, he was a very valid follower for Vingegaard.

Generally, either you play the wingmen (that is, sacrificing yourself for your captain and the greater good which is the yellow jersey) or you look for victories, escapes and other jerseys. Van Aert, on the other hand, did everything together, and everything was fine. Furthermore, on the Hautacam, a long and hard Pyrenean ascent, he was able to go fast enough to break Pogačar. All this despite not having the physique of a climber at all: Van Aert is six feet tall and weighs, generally, not much less than 80 kilos, while Vingegaard, one meter and 75 centimeters tall, weighs about 60.

(AP Photo / Daniel Cole)

In all this, van Aert also managed to finish 22nd in the overall standings, in fact replicating the results obtained in 2020 and 2021. This is why the idea that, if he wants to, Van Aert will be able to one day become a credible yellow jersey contender.

Journalist Alexandre Roos wrote onTeam: «We had never seen a rider weigh so much on the race without having an interest in the yellow jersey».

The Jumbo-Visma
It is certainly remarkable, net of all this, that two out of three protagonists of such a peculiar Tour run for the same team, and that this team has managed to win the yellow jersey, the polka dot jersey, the green jersey and 6 stages out of 21. without however kill the race, but rather making it a lot more lively than usual.

Several times it has happened that the Jumbo-Visma was committed to reaching different objectives in the same stage: it happened for example that Van Aert was on the run to score points for the green jersey, but also to win and score points for the polka dot one; and that together he slowed down on purpose to help Vingegaard in obtaining the yellow one. There were problems (in the fifth stage, on the cobblestones, the team had a bad time), but the results proved the team right.

(Thomas Samson / Pool Photo via AP)

The previous team that had been able to dominate the Tour de France was Chris Froome’s Sky. However, he had done it in a different way, more analytical and less creative: “he was the bolt” wrote the journalist William Fotheringham in the Guardian. Joshua Robinson wrote about Jumbo-Visma, who is Dutch, on the Wall Street Journal: «If the Dutch national team of the seventies invented total football, Jumbo-Visma is perfecting total cycling».

#riders #Tour #France #exceptional #Post


About the author


Leave a Comment