Jonas Vingegaard has confirmed his grip on the yellow jersey on the Queen Stage of the 2023 Tour de France, with a brutally efficient performance that his rival, Tadej Pogačar simply could not match.
It’s fair to say that the previous day’s TT, in which Vingegaard put 1 minute 38 seconds into the supposedly superior time trialist, almost extinguished any hope, but on Stage 17 the Slovenian’s bid for a third Tour de France overall victory was laid to rest.
Pogačar did not even survive until the brutally steep slopes of the 2,304m Col de la Loze: the UAE rider slipped back from a reduced peloton among the chalets of Meribel, leaving Vingegaard and his key Jumbo Visma lieutenant Sepp Kuss to power up the double digit gradient, soaring to almost certain victory in the overall classification. Not a word was exchanged: Vingegaard, impassive behind his shades, let his legs do the talking.
After his crash and broken wrist in this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Pogačar’s training was disrupted, and there had been questions about his endurance in this, the toughest of three-week tests. And so it came to pass. Chapeau to the Slovenian for providing the panache to light up this year’s Tour GC battle. There will be next year. But for now, the old adage remains true: you can’t lie to a mountain.