Efforts from Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Rogic (left) have been crucial for Jonas Winggard's rise to the top of the standings.

Strength in numbers helps Vingegaard overhaul Pogacar in Tour de France

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Tour de France history is referred to by French observers – while licking their lips – as bouquets, when the apparent race landscape turns upside down in unexpected and dramatic ways. One of those great upheavals happened this week, when the Dane Jonas winggaard ousted the race’s No. 1 favorite, Tadej Pogakar, whose first 10 days of dominance led most spectators to predict a comfortable third overall title. did.

Most often, the tour proceeds according to a formbook that is written down quickly; Typically, the race is for the favorite who makes the best of the first mountain top finish or time trial. The 2022 Tour was like that, but on Wednesday, when the podium atop Col du Granon’s towering alpine climb finished, Vingegaard and the Jumbo-Visma team first sent Pogakar ruthlessly down.

related: Tour de France: Winggaard clings to Pogacar as Mathews wins stage 14

It will take its place in the pantheon of great turnarounds of the Tour. Marco Pantani, who destroyed Jan Ulrich on the Galibier in 1998 in a torrential downpour, was perhaps the most recent occasion, while in 1989, when Greg LeMond seized the yellow from Laurent Fignon on the final day’s trial, perhaps always the last instance. will remain, as well as being the Tour’s biggest comeback.

The French have fond memories of Bernard Thévenet who unexpectedly destroyed Eddie Merckx in 1975, while in 1976 Lucien Van Impe won his only tour through the Pyrenees with an epic, and unlikely, attack.

That it’s necessary to go back that far shows how rare Vingegaard’s achievement is, whether it’s a Tour win or Pogakar stage one. boulevarment his own.

Wingguard’s win was also a rare example of a decisive Tour stage where the team’s strategy worked to perfection, believed to have been helped by Pogakar’s UAE team Emirates down the numbers by the Covid-19 virus. However, on several occasions in the first week it was already clear that the team might not be ready for their next assignment.

When Vout van Aert attacked to win the Kallis stage, UAE was unable to put the numbers around Pogakar. The same thing happened the next day on the cobbled road to Arenberg, when the Slovenian youth force hid their weakness. Similarly, when Van Aert launched his futile long-range attack en route to Longvie the next morning, Pogacar’s two men were unable to hold the furious peloton in the middle of the stage.

Efforts from Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Rogic (left) have been crucial for Jonas Winggard's rise to the top of the standings.

Efforts from Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Rogic (left) have been crucial for Jonas Winggard’s rise to the top of the standings. Photograph: Marco Bertorello / AFP / Getty Images

Wednesday’s events demonstrated that no matter how strong a person is in the Tour de France, if they are up against a strong team, they are unlikely to win unless there is a strong group of activists around them.

Van Aert’s strength initially indicated that he could be instrumental in any alpine attack by Jumbo-Visma, and so it was proved. The points leader quickly ran clear when the flag was dropped at BrianCon on Wednesday; His role was to make a quick escape and wait for a group of race favorites to follow after the wingguard and Col.

Eventually, he is joined on the run by Frenchman Christophe Laporte, whose job was to support Winggaard’s co-leader, Primos Rogi, who was assigned the task of making the race as difficult as possible for Pogaar before Winggaard makes his move. .

Any race is unpredictable but Jumbo-Visma’s plan worked to perfection. With first Tisges Benoot and then Laporte – who had waited on the climb leading to Galibier, Col du Telegraf – to aid him, Rojic began attacking Galibier with a group of race favorites, which included wingguards. Went.

Roslik had been suffering from a back injury for the past eight days, but his effort was enough to take out Pogakar’s remaining teammates, leaving him lacking support other than the ubiquitous Rafal Majka. Roglic made further attacks up the mountain – at a place known as Plan Lacht – but broke down just before the summit. However, van Aert went on to the front Galibier with the other members of the opening move, and the Belgian was able to wait on the descent before pogging Rogik and turning back to Vingegaard.

This was important, as it meant that when he began the ascent of Grannon, Pogakar came under attack from Rojic, as well as Van Aert, and was forced to expend mental and physical energy in responding, while Winggaard did. Spent his time before the coup d’état. Favour.

The past few years have seen the rise of “super-teams”, two wheelers, the big budget equivalent of Real Madrid or Barcelona, ​​filled with cycling. galacticos, Models differ subtly: Inios has multiple leaders, a lone leader and several expensive employees in the UAE-Emirates, and in Jumbo-Visma, the twin leader and best all-rounder in the game, Van Aert.

When Van Aert was showing his strength earlier in the week, a rival manager stated that he believed the eventual Jumbo-Visma plan would be to separate Pogakar from his teammates in the mountains, giving him the wingguard and Rogi’s gentleness. Will be left to mercy.

That interpretation was clearly correct and, barring one unforeseen incident, it is now the Dutch team’s race to lose. If it proves to be a collective victory, it will be worth reflecting on the contribution of Roglic, Tour runner-up in 2020, possibly never destined to win great races.

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