How would you rate this Tour?
12.5/20. Which is good, but not great. More seriously, I was never really bored during this Tour, but it lacked a little, even a big something to have an extra dimension. This epic breath that makes the editions truly outstanding. Perhaps a scenario a little too well oiled, which will have known only one tipping point, during the Granon stage.
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Fritsch: “Why van Aert will still struggle to win the Tour in the years to come”
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The Tour kind of stopped here, at least when it comes to the fight for the yellow jersey. The Vingegaard – Pogacar duel was high level but once past the Granon, it was sewn with white thread. But just for this stage, one of the most beautiful in the mountains since the beginning of the 21st century, the 109th edition deserves a score well above the average. But we would have liked a few more surprises, “cliffhangers” that keep us in suspense.
12/20. If, three weeks ago in Copenhagen, someone, coming back from the future, would have explained to you that Jonas Vingegaard was going to win the Tour de France ahead of Tadej Pogacar without revealing the scenario of the race to you, you would surely have imagined a lot of things. Not necessarily the ones we attended. From a strict point of view of the general classification (I know that it is not everything and I will come back to this), I cut this Tour into two distinct parts: the first dominated, for the favorites, by Tadej Pogacar and the second by Jonas Vingaard. And finally in one as in the other, the leader never seemed in difficulty.
It was a great show: The summary of a crazy 11th stage
You will answer me that there was the Granon stage, it’s true and it was exceptional, but it was the only day when the fight for the yellow jersey was upset. I find it skinny. For the rest, yes there was Wout van Aert, some great stories (Lampaert, Jakobsen, Jungels, Houle) but that’s not enough in my eyes to make this Tour something unforgettable. It will be for Jonas Vingegaard or for us if his reign were to extend but hot, I remain a little on my hunger.
What was the biggest surprise?
I’m not going to draw you a picture, but the forbidden pout of Wout van Aert in front of the screen when Yves Lampaert crosses the finish line of the inaugural time trial (13.2 km) said it all. Who, I say who, would have bet even a kopeck on the Belgian? Nobody, despite the obvious qualities of the farmer in the solitary exercise, double national champion, in 2016 and 2021 (vice-champion in 2022).
When it was time to put his suitcases on Scandinavian soil, the flahute could even swell his chest, on the strength of a success in the Tour de Belgique time trial last month. The qualities, Lampaert has them, but the weather also gave him a big boost.
And Lampaert realized: his emotion in pictures
Leaving after the favorites of the day, the rider of the Quick Step Alpha-Vinyl took care of increasing his cardiac impulses when the Wout van Aert, Filippo Ganna, Mathieu van der Poel, Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic & co armed with caution in the narrow maze of sodden streets of Copenhagen. Time has acted up, and Lampaert has stuck his world, van Aert included.
Contemplating the native of Izegem plowing the suburbs like the Flemish fields and fixing his rounded face on the podium… The surprise was happy and total. The Tour is also about directing the light towards these second-in-command whose emphatic ambitions have faded for a long time.
The Tour, it is said, only crowns great runners. Win one of the 21 stages, an affair reserved for an elite. Take this year’s list of 15 winners and play the odd one out. Logically you should come to the same conclusion as me: Hugo Houle has, on paper, nothing to do there. And yet the Canadian will forever be the winner of a stage of the Tour de France.
Attention there is no question of saying here that Hugo Houle is a little runner. But do you realize, at 31, his record only showed two Canadian time trial titles and only a 7th place on the 12th stage of the 2020 Tour. And even on the other races on the calendar, he never had touched the finger if only of a beautiful professional victory.
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And yet on this 16th stage, it was his own head that overtook the huge group launched in the hunt for victory. A group in which appeared Madouas, Storer, Vlasov, Teuns, Gerschke or Caruso, only very beautiful people. Nobody would have bet on him but Houle did so on behalf of his brother, who died in tragic circumstances a few years ago.
What was the strongest image?
July 21, 18th stage drawn between Lourdes and Hautacam. Wout van Aert got up early and Jonas Vingegaard still has peace of mind despite Tadej Pogacar’s victory the day before at the top of Peyragudes. The Slovenian, precisely, resumes his undermining work from the Spandelles pass, whose narrow road and wild contours are impressive.
“Pogi” stands once, twice, three times on the pedals. At the fourth banner, a crack can be read on the glassy mask of the yellow jersey, forced to pedal with the shoulders (and the rest) to follow the wake of the insolent Slovenian. With this frank attack, Pogacar touched the ceiling of the Dane in the mountains, very happy to dive into the descent in contact with his dolphin. The white jersey has felt it: the break is not very far away.
Taken at his own game, Pogacar fell… but Vingegaard waited for him
An attempt in the descent of Spandelles later, and the Scandinavian almost lost his balance, the Tour, and even more than that. Instead, Vingegaard trampled on some tall grass and resumed his place in the escapement of Pogacar, who will not avoid the gadin. Expected by the leader, the double holder of the event praised the sporting gesture of his rival, and recorded the extension of a battle under a more conventional framework: uphill, on the pedal. It was then that Pogacar understood that he had lost the Tour, and accepted the physical (and moral) superiority of the Dane.
Wednesday July 13, Col du Granon. Tadej Pogacar is already spending his fifth day in yellow. He has already won two stages. Arch-favorite he was at the start of Copenhagen, arch-favorite he is more than ever. Everyone sees him triumph for a third consecutive time on the Champs-Elysées. Then, all of a sudden, 4.5 kilometers from the summit of the terrible Granon, the Slovenian gets stuck. Then frankly cracks. Jonas Vingegaard is gone and he’s not the only one. At the top, the Dane will be in yellow. We don’t know it yet, but this Tour is “over”.
Whatever happens in the future, this moment will remain. If Tadej Pogacar regains control and wins another one, two, three or twelve more Tours, his failure of the Granon will mark one of the low points of his career. And if he should never win the Tour again (after all, who can know?), it will be the reference date for his end to his reign so early. Despite everything, it would be surprising if his two coronations in yellow did not have a little brother one day soon. At least one.
But he had dominated his subject so much in recent months, on the Tour as elsewhere, that we had come to believe that he was unstoppable. Then the image of his huge boxwood blow surprised. For me, it is the most striking of this Tour, with another, a few minutes later: as soon as the finish line was crossed, the Slovenian, a big smile on his face, went to greet Vingegaard. We knew the boy knew how to win. He also knows how to lose.
The great turning point of the Granon: Vingegaard on board, Pogacar adrift
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