The 18th stage debrief: Jonas Vingegaard, alone in the world

The fact of the day

End of the ball. If the landscape of the Tour de France will last a little longer until Sunday and the magnificent setting of the Champs Elysées, in people’s minds, it’s all over. Jonas Vingegaard will win the Tour de France, and even the memory of the miracle of La Planche will not be enough to maintain any semblance of suspense. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you outright. Peyragudes had already delivered part of the truth and if we were expecting Granon-style fireworks for Pogacar, the jump of the day at Hautacam was ultimately just a carbon copy of the day before, or almost.

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Almost only Take Tadej Pogacar’s attacks, because there were some, and not just a few, although no punch from the Slovenian made the Dane falter. Take also a breakaway that had no chance of winning (didn’t Thibaut Pinot?), the excellent stage of the Pyrenees and add a touch of excitement when the yellow jersey almost went to the (big) fault in the descent of the Spandelles pass and a bit of a scare when Tadej Pogacar bit the dust a few minutes later. And above all, break the end of the recipe.

Put at his own game, Pogacar fell… but Vingegaard was waiting for him

You won’t find this in any cycling manual. Attacking from kilometer 0, at the front all day, Wout van Aert thought for a while that he was playing for the stage win before he… nailed the double defender. History will remember that at Hautacam it wasn’t a strike from Jonas Vingegaard that definitively buried Pogacar’s hopes of a hat-trick.

As in Granon, where the mimicry with the immense work of the Jumbo-Visma draws attention, there as in Hautacam, the Dane has climbed alone the last four kilometers. Enough to push his rival to 1’04”, which with the bonuses, gives him a cushion of 206 seconds ahead of Rocamadour’s time. On Friday evening, on the eve of this one, if the Planche des Belles Filles and 2020 are mentioned at the Jumbo-Visma table, it will probably be nothing more than a small joke to play fear. The Tour is over, you can pack your bags.

Van Aert dropped Pogacar, then Vingegaard flew: how Jumbo-Visma sealed the Tour

The big loser: Tadej Pogacar

He probably knew he had been beaten even before starting this definitive Pyrenean work. As a good runner that he is, as a child who is not afraid of anything, Tadej Pogacar has again tried to let go of Jonas Vingegaard. His attacks on Spandelles were maybe his 10th, 12th or 15th this Round. They, like their predecessors, were useless, at least not in their duel against the Dane. And in the ascent of Hautacam, the white shirt gave up. He tried nothing and just waited for the moment when his killing would be complete. No, Tadej Pogacar will not do the triple in the Tour de France. He will finish it, barring a surprise, in second place behind a driver as untouchable as he was last year.

The picture

In this section we could have put Jonas Vingegaard and/or Tadej Pogacar, but the fall that scared us the most, from the point of view of the rider’s health this Thursday, was that of Jack Bauer caught between a motorcycle and the United Arab Emirates team car.

Between a motorcycle and a car, Bauer crashed but avoided the worst

We liked it

The root of Tadej Pogacar. Say what we will about his powerlessness against Jonas Vingegaard, the boy from Komenda only really conceded defeat when he was sure and certain that there was nothing more to do.

The first flag: Pogacar attacks 40 km from the finish line

David Gaudu once again! By now we should be used to it: when the Breton comes out, you shouldn’t worry. Aided by a great Valentin Madouas, Gaudu has returned to Geraint Thomas and above all has dropped Nairo Quintana, his rival for the Top 4, who is now back to 2’20” of the overall.

The Col de Spandelles that the Tour discovered. Its gradients, its coating, the narrowness of its road, everything about it makes you want to come back. And what about that descent where Vingegaard and Pogacar were freaking out…

We didn’t like it

The absence of suspense. Nothing against Jonas Vingegaard but if he could have let Tadej Pogacar go, Saturday’s time would have been a bit more in play.

When Thibaut Pinot was dropped by Wout van Aert and Daniel Felipe Martinez on the climb to Hautacam. We had understood that probably the winner of the day was not in this trio but this moment materialized a frustrating Tour for a Pinot that will finish in the Top 15 of the general classification but without the success that he so desired.

The statement: Jonas Vingegaard to Wout van Aert

You see, he dropped Pogacar!

Three statistics to remember

3. He probably won’t win a stage (barring a surprise, there should be two sprints left in addition to the time of the last three stages), but the Groupama-FDJ team is still putting together one hell of a 2022 Tour. David Gaudu will have assumed his leadership from end to end. His 4th position, at the foot of the podium, is a real satisfaction. Working for his Breton friend, Valentin Madouas remains in 12th place, while Thibaut Pinot joins the Top 15 this Thursday. Three drivers out of the 15 do not see each other, no other team does so well. Not even INEOS who, earlier in the week, placed three of their members in… the 10th.

26. Already 11’05” behind Jonas Vingegaard in the general classification, David Gaudu should finish the Tour more than 13 minutes behind the winner, barring a trick on the clock. You had to go back to 1999 to see a 4th (Laurent Dufaux) finish so far behind the last yellow jersey, Lance Armstrong, as he was demoted.

50 The percentage of Tours de France that, in the last eight editions, has seen the final winner return to Paris the polka dot jersey in addition to the yellow jersey. After Chris Froome in 2015, we are now even in a real series as Tadej Pogacar had taken the mountain classification during his two triumphs in 2020 and 2021 and, barring the Champs Elysées disaster, will also by Jonas Vingegaard. this year. What had been the exception since the late 1940s is once again the norm.

Just to know…

Isn’t it a shame that the Tour ends in three days when Wout van Aert was just starting to find his rhythm?

What does Tom Pidcock think of three-week races? The winner of the Alpe dropped nine ranks (from 9 to 18) in the Pyrenees.

Who is David Gaudu’s main challenger for the 4th position: Quintana, Meintjes or Vlasov?

Quiz of the day

The answer to Wednesday’s quiz was Bjarne Riis and Vincenzo Nibali, winners in Hautacam with the yellow jersey on their backs and winners of the Tour with ease.

Here’s today’s:

With Gaudu (4th), Bardet (8th), Madouas (12th) and Pinot (15th), France places four riders in the Top 10. The next one is in… 41st position overall. But who is he?

Today’s poll

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