In a stunning turn of events, Jonas Vingegaard shattered Tadej Pogacar’s hopes of overcoming a 10-second deficit in the Tour de France. The highly anticipated stage 16 time trial, spanning 22.4km from Passy to Combloux, saw Vingegaard, representing Jumbo-Visma, deliver a remarkable performance that has effectively put an end to the suspenseful battle between the two riders.
Pogacar, the reigning champion, consistently emphasized that mere seconds would not determine the race, and it seems his words hold true.Vingegaard’s dominant display on the “race of truth” left little room for a nail-biting showdown between the contenders, shattering any hopes of a thrilling climax.
Describing his triumph as one of his finest moments on a bicycle and his personal best in a time trial, the defending champion reveled in his outstanding achievement.
Pogacar, by contrast, looked and sounded crestfallen. “I couldn’t have done anything more today,” the 24-year-old said. “I was at my limit. Maybe it wasn’t my best day, but the Tour isn’t finished yet, even if Jonas took a lot of time. I’m a bit surprised, because I felt I was doing a solid time trial, but at the end the gap was big. Anyway, I gave it my all. It’s not over – we have a very hard stage tomorrow. We’ll try to find a plan and execute it but it’ll be hard to recover almost two minutes.”
Tour’s overall standings
Jonas Vingegaard now leads his UAE Team Emirates rival by 1min 48sec in the Tour’s overall standings. With two summit finishes remaining, the race seems to have reached a decisive point with Wednesday’s stage 17 to Courchevel altiport and stage 20 to Le Markstein.“We prepared for this for so long,” the Dane said, “and today all the hard work paid off.”
Deliberately kept in the dark about his progress by his team car, Vingegaard stuck to the task and made the biggest gains in the closing kilometres. “They will never tell me the time gaps but, in the end, they told me I was really doing well and I could see Tadej’s team car, so that also gave me a lot of motivation that I was really doing a good time trial.”
Vingegaard gained time from the off. The 26-year-old rolled down the start ramp and was immediately, visibly, faster than his rival, cutting corners and accelerating into the straights at higher speeds than Pogacar.
A 16sec lead at the first time check became a 31sec margin at the foot of the decisive Côte de Domancy climb, where Pogacar swapped his time-trial bike for a standard road bike, 2kg lighter. It was a gamble that failed to pay off and the 2020 and 2021 champion seemed to lose momentum even further.