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‘Tadej was the strongest’: Jonas Vingegaard on the Gravel Stage Amid Setbacks

By Monica Buck

Jonas Vingegaard openly acknowledged the superior strength of Tadej Pogačar during the challenging gravel stage 9 of the Tour de France, even as he faced his own series of adversities, including a double puncture and the strategic decision to stick with his teammates rather than collaborate with Pogačar.

Vingegaard and Pogačar were at the forefront, leaving other main contenders like Remco Evenepoel and Primož Roglič trailing behind due to a series of aggressive moves by Pogačar. Despite the advantageous position, Vingegaard opted not to assist Pogačar, prioritizing team tactics over temporary alliances.

“He was riding so fast himself, we didn’t think about it. But in all kinds of situations, we thought it was better for us to have more teammates in case something happened,” Vingegaard explained. This strategy was evident as teammates Matteo Jorgenson and Christophe Laporte played crucial roles in supporting him, particularly when bridging gaps to Pogačar’s breakaways.

“So, of course, in some way, it would have been better to ride because Primož and Remco were not there. But on the other hand, our goal was not to lose time, so maybe it was better to wait.”

Vingegaard’s day was compounded by mechanical issues, forcing him to ride nearly 100 kilometers on a teammate’s bike. “I’m, of course, very relieved that I made it safely to the finish without losing any time and only two punctures,” he quipped. He humorously recounted his mishaps, which included a puncture upon switching bikes and another in the closing kilometers of the race.

“So I owe all my teammates a big big thank you, and they did super well today. Jan gave me the bike; it was a perfect fit, and the rest of the guys kept me in the front. I entered every sector in first position and they even closed the gap for me one time when I couldn’t follow. So, I owe them big time after one.”

Reflecting on the physical challenges presented by the gravel, Vingegaard admitted that Pogačar’s build gave him an advantage in certain sectors. “Tadej was the strongest,” he admitted, adding, “It [the gravel] favours him also more than favours me, especially when the gravel was looser.”

“For a guy of my weight, it’s not favourable, and that was also when he got a small gap on me; it was probably the worst sector of all. It was so loose that I was just sliding around, to be honest. It was really hard for me to control the bike.”

Despite his opposition to gravel stages in Grand Tours, describing them as ‘unnecessary’, Vingegaard appeared relaxed post-race. His recent reflections on life’s priorities following a crash in April helped lessen the pressure: “I realised what life was about, and it’s more about family and living life rather than cycling, so maybe in that way I feel less pressure, and I enjoy it more.”

Tour de France Stage 9 Results: Troyes > Troyes (199km)

  1. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Energies, 04:19:42
  2. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
  3. Derek Gee (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
  4. Alex Aranburu (Esp) Movistar
  5. Ben Healy (Ire) EF Education-EasyPost
  6. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan
  7. Javier Romo (Esp) Movistar
  8. Jasper Steven (Bel) Lidl-Trek, +18s
  9. Biniam Girmay (Eri) Intermarché-Wanty, +1:17
  10. Michael Matthews (Aus) Jayco-AlUla

General Classification After Stage 9

  1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, 35:42:42
  2. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Soudal Quick-Step, +33s
  3. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Visma-Lease a Bike, +1:15
  4. Primož Roglič (Slo) Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe, +1:36
  5. Juan Ayuso (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, +2:16
  6. João Almeida (Por) UAE Team Emirates, +2:17
  7. Carlos Rodríguez (Esp) Ineos Grenadiers, +2:31
  8. Mikel Landa (Esp) Soudal-Quick Step, +3:35
  9. Derek Gee (Can) Israel-Premier Tech, +4:02
  10. Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Visma-Lease a Bike, +4:03