Jonas Vingegaard is getting used to this. Another Tour de France, another yellow jersey in Paris, another winner’s speech on the Champs-Élysées. The modern tradition started with Lance Armstrong’s infamous “cynics and sceptics” oration of 2005, but the speakers that followed have generally tended towards diplomacy.
Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas made forays into humour, of course, but, as in 2022, Vingegaard played a straight bat when he was handed the microphone, thanking his Jumbo-Visma team, his rivals and his family.
“It’s been an amazing year, an amazing Tour de France for us. It all starts somewhere, of course, and we started the plans early,” said Vingegaard. “Tonight, we will celebrate it with a nice dinner, and it will be really nice a nice evening as well.”
There will not, of course, be much time for celebration in Vingegaard’s schedule. On Sunday morning, word filtered through that he would take part in the upcoming Vuelta a España, setting out from Barcelona on August 26 as Jumbo-Visma’s co-leader alongside Primož Roglič.
Already the winner of the Giro d’Italia in May, Roglič is seeking a fourth Vuelta title, while Vingegaard is looking to add to his rapidly growing palmarès. Jumbo-Visma, meanwhile, are aiming to complete a remarkable clean sweep of the season’s three-week Grand Tours, a feat that proved beyond even Team Sky in their years of plenty.
“We made the decision already in November last year, so it’s been the plan all the time, but now was the moment to break the news. I’m really looking forward to the Vuelta as well,” Vingegaard said at the start of Sunday’s stage in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. “Of course, I will enjoy today, I will enjoy the Tour de France win, but then in one week’s time from now, I’ll start focusing on the Vuelta.”
Since the Vuelta moved to its current slot on the calendar in 1995, only one rider – Chris Froome in 2017 – has managed to win the race and the Tour in the same season. Before he mounted the podium on the Champs-Élysées, Vingegaard confirmed that he would travel to Spain with designs on overall victory against a deep field that will also include Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), Geraint Thomas (Ineos) and Juan Ayuso (UAE Team Emirates).
“I think so. I hope so at least, but we will see in a month,” Vingegaard said. “The plan is that we go there to win as a team, with both me and Primoz as leaders.”
As dusk fell gently over Paris on Sunday evening, however, Vingegaard preferred to reflect on the task just completed. Although the Dane placed second in his debut Tour in 2021, his triumph of a year ago still had the feel of a surprise given that two-time winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) had set out as the clear favourite for the yellow jersey.
Before the start of this year’s race in Bilbao, most observers agreed there was precious little to separate Vingegaard and Pogačar, and that consensus looked to be borne out when just ten seconds separated the duo after two weeks of racing. The dynamic of this race – and, perhaps, of their entire rivalry – shifted, however, in two remarkable days at the start of the third week.
After a startling demonstration in the Combloux time trial, Vingegaard ran mercilessly through his scales all over again a day later on the Col de la Loze, where Pogačar floundered. The level of his performance and the scale of his dominance was striking, and Vingegaard said last week that he could “fully understand” the scepticism of some observers, though Jumbo-Visma manager Richard Plugge expressed greater frustration at some of the incredulity directed his team’s way in recent days.
Vingegaard, in any case, finally reached Paris with a lead of 7:29 over Pogačar, fulfilling his own, repeated predictions that this race would be decided in minutes rather than in seconds. He was reluctant to say, however, which of his two Tour triumphs was the more demanding.
“It’s hard to tell, I mean, they were different, the two of them. Last year, there was more pressure from myself and the team because we didn’t win it before. Going into this one, we were a bit more relaxed because we won it last year,” said Vingegaard. It goes without saying that he will be back to defend his title next year. “I’m super, super happy and proud of my second victory in the Tour de France, and I hope to come back next year to try to win the third one.”