Vingegaard on Winning the Tour: ‘You sometimes feel like a circus monkey’

By Monica Buck

The Dane played down stories of post-Tour burnout in a lengthy interview, published by Het Laatste Nieuws, claiming it was all exaggerated. The stories didn’t come out of nowhere, though. Jumbo-Visma Sports Director Frans Maassen stated in August last year that Vingegaard was having a tough time after the Tour due to increased pressure. Fellow Dane Michael Morkov said Vingegaard was “no doubt exhausted”. The champ later missed his home race, the Tour of Denmark, and only returned to racing after a two-month break in late September at a low-key race in Croatia.

“That was all exaggerated, the media has created a story that wasn’t there. Why should I hide?” Cyclingnews quoted the interview. “I’m still the same Jonas I was before my win. Quiet and peaceful.”

Vingegaard was asked about the break after the Tour and simply answered: “I celebrated my victory and then went home. It was no more or less than that. We were still thinking about a Vuelta participation but it was not ideal condition-wise. Seriously, I had fun with friends and family. I took my time to relax and have a good winter. As a Tour winner, everyone has an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t do, right?

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I can’t change that. All I can say is that it has no effect on me. I don’t care. I only listen to the people on the team.”

He did, however, admit to strange feelings at the post-Tour criteriums in Singapore and Saitama.

“You sometimes feel like a circus monkey,” he joked. “Of course, you can also say ‘no’ to such an invitation. Then you don’t feel like a circus monkey but then you don’t have a financially sound deal either.”

Jonas Vingegaard
Vingegaard at the 2022 Il Lombardia. © Profimedia

The 2023 Tour de France will be very different. Be it for the route, very suited to climbers, or simply just for the fact that Primož Roglič won’t be coming to the race. The Slovenian chose to race the Giro instead in 2023. The strategy of cracking Pogačar on a climb like the Galibier just won’t be possible as Vingegaard admitted.

“With no Primož there,” he recognised, “it will not be possible.” However, he is not looking for any excuses.

“I’m looking forward to going back with the number one jersey. I will be the sole leader. That creates – just like the fact that I am the defending champion – more and, at the same time, less pressure. I won the Tour. Sometimes, I wake up and have to convince myself it wasn’t a dream but I know how to do it now.

“If I never win again, I can always say that I succeeded once. On the other hand, everything falls on my shoulders but I can handle that. No problem. It even feels comfortable to be the defending champion.”

Will he defend the title? What do you think?