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Road to the Tour: Vingegaard Is 50-50, New Safety Rules and Adam Yates Is Ready

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

The chances of two-time Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard (Visma–Lease a Bike) being fit enough to ride in the Tour de France are 50-50, his coach, Tim Heemskerk told the Danish news outlet B.T.

“For me, it’s 50-50 whether Jonas makes it to the Tour,” he said, adding that he was fit enough now to join the team at its training camp. The 27-year-old Dane suffered serious injuries in a crash during the Itzulia Basque Country and spent nearly two weeks in a hospital. The fact that he is able to train with the team was a good sign, Heemskerk noted.

“In the coming days, Jonas will continue alone while the riders from the [Critérium du] Dauphiné – including Matteo Jorgenson – recover,” he said. “But starting Thursday, they will train together, with each rider following their own program during team training. It is very positive for me that he can be part of the squad.”

Vingegaard is coming off two weeks of altitude training, which was an essential step on the road to his full recovery.

“He needed to follow the program to have any hopes of being ready for the Tour,” Heemskerk said. “The exciting thing now is how he responds to the tough week of training he just had. The first week at altitude was for adaptation and recovery, and then he had a tough week. Now there’s another one coming.”

If Vingegaard does make it to the Tour and manages to win a third yellow jersey in a row, it will be regarded as nothing short of a sporting miracle, considering the severity of his injuries and the training time he lost.

“Jonas needs a few more good weeks of training before we can say he’s back to the level he usually has before the Tour. There’s still some fitness that needs to be regained,” Heemskerk said.

Millions of cycling fans around the world are keeping their fingers crossed.

Jonas Vingegaard
It’s 50-50 whether Vingegaard makes it to the Tour. © Profimedia

New safety rules to be tested in the Tour de France

Select stages of this year’s Tour de France will be used to test two new safety rules introduced by cycling’s governing body the UCI. The rules to be evaluated in the Tour involve the increasingly fast and chaotic bunch sprints.

One new rule foresees extending the “three-kilometer rule” – which enables riders who crashed or were otherwise halted within the last 3km of a race to be given the same time as the group they were with – to 5km, if organizers request it. That distance had been 1km until 2005, when it was extended.

“This measure is intended to take account of the increase in traffic-calming infrastructure  sources of danger for the pelotons – within an ever-greater radius of the race finish sites,” the UCI said. “Extending the zone in which the rule applies, when necessary, will reduce the pressure on riders during the phase of the race leading up to the final sprint.”

The other measure affecting sprints involves the time gaps between groups of riders in the peloton. Currently, the same time is given to riders in the same group as long as they are separated by no more than 1 second from groups ahead of them during a bunch sprint. That time gap will be extended to 3 seconds in the Tour.

The UCI explained that this rule “is intended to simplify the calculation of time gaps at stages with an expected bunch sprint, to relieve the pressure on riders not directly involved in the sprint and to allow them to leave a certain margin with the front of the race – three seconds corresponding to a gap of 50 meters, rather than 17 meters for a one-second gap – and to thus reduce unnecessary risk-taking, particularly for riders aiming for the overall classification.”

Other new safety rules introduced by the UCI, which will be tested starting in August, are a yellow card system for rider infractions and restrictions on wearing and using ear pieces during a race. The rules were proposed by SafeR, a new structure within the UCI dedicated to improving the safety of road racing.

Pogačar’s support riders Adam Yates and João Almeida are primed for the Tour

Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Team Emirates climbing support riders Adam Yates and João Almeida are in excellent form for the Tour de France, if the Tour de Suisse is anything to go by. Yates and Almeida finished one-two in Thursday’s stage 5 summit finish and now occupy the top two places of the Tour de Suisse podium

Yates won the brutal ascent (10.2km @ 8%) to Cari, edging his teammate by 5 seconds, with the improving Egan Bernal coming third, at 16 seconds. With two mountain stages and an ITT remaining in the race, Yates leads the GC by 35 seconds over Almeida, with Bernal completing the podium, at 1:11.

With the forms of the defending Tour champion, Jonas Vingegaard, and his primary mountain support rider, Sepp Kuss, in doubt, the Slovenian looks to have the advantage with two weeks remaining before the Tour kicks off. However, 21-year-old Juan Ayuso and four other of UAE’s Tour participants – including Nils Politt and Pavel Sivakov – crashed during the Critérium du Dauphiné and sustained injuries of varying severity, with Ayuso coming off the worst. Though none appeared to be seriously hurt, their status has not been updated by the team.