Defending Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard is as decided as ever to take a second straight title on the earth’s greatest bike race, however the Danish star says that relating to preventing for the victory this July in France, he feels he’s beneath much less stress than in 2022.
Second within the 2021 Tour de France previous to defeating Tadej Pogačar in 2022 and claiming his first Grand Tour victory, Vingegaard is satisfied he has each likelihood of repeating his triumph this summer season.
The 26-year-old is at present placing the final items within the jigsaw of his preparation into place, together with a recon on Friday of the Tour de France’s stage 9 on the Puy de Dôme, the place he crossed paths with Enric Mas (Movistar) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers). Each Mas and Bernal will possible be key rivals come July in addition to collaborating, like Vingegaard, within the Critérium du Dauphiné, which begins Sunday within the close by city of Chambon-sur-Lac.
However because the Jumbo-Visma racer instructed a small group of reporters in an interview previous to his return to racing after a two-month break, the morale enhance he gained due to his 2022 Tour triumph will assist spur him on towards whichever opponent he has to face in 4 weeks time: together with Pogačar.
“I believe profitable the Tour provides me a whole lot of confidence, and I consider I can do it once more. A number of issues can occur, and I’ll must be at my finest stage, however I believe I can do it,” Vingegaard mentioned.
As for the elevated expectations surrounding him as defending champion, Vingegaard reasoned that “The sensation I’ve now’s one in all much less stress, now I’ve received it as soon as. Even when I by no means win it once more and I retire in 10 years, I can nonetheless say I’ve received it and be happy with my profession.”
Vingegaard has solely taken half in three races up to now this 12 months, but when he was defeated by each Pogačar and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) in Paris-Good, he bounced again with a vengeance a couple of weeks later at Itzulia Basque Nation, the place he claimed the general victory and three phases.
But he remained cautious about his present situation in comparison with 2022 at this level, saying, “It’s at all times exhausting to inform. I believe my complete spring has been higher, and there haven’t been any points or illness or something. Nevertheless it’s exhausting to match, and we’ve modified tools as properly, so it’s tougher to say if I’m stronger.”
Second within the Dauphine final 12 months, Vingegaard mentioned that somewhat than search for a specific end result, he would undertake a technique of taking the eight-day race daily and seeing the way it labored out.
The Dauphine is a “super-nice race,” he mentioned, by the use of explaining why he had returned to it for 3 years in a row. However his eye was way more on the larger prize of July. Or, as he put it, “If I had to decide on between the 2 races, it’d be 100% for the Tour.”
“Usually, this race doesn’t determine the Tour,” he identified, “you won’t be good right here, and nonetheless, the whole lot can change earlier than July.
“I haven’t actually thought an excessive amount of about it, it doesn’t make sense that I’m going full fuel in flat phases, so I’ll take it on the day-by-day. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll go for it.
“The [stage 4] time trial is a bonus, however we’ve seen each every now and then you are able to do a nasty TT. Additionally, within the different phases, we’ll must see how the whole lot seems.
“I’m wanting ahead to racing once more, anyway, it’s been some time now.”
Taking up Pogačar
As for the upcoming duel towards Pogačar in July, Vingegaard expressed the hope that the Slovenian could be be again to full power for the Tour and he described the UAE racer’s spectacular spring season as “spectacular.” The 2 had not spoken, he mentioned, about Pogačar’s present situation following his accident,, with the Dane considerably curtly telling one journalist, “you’ll must ask him about that.”
“It’d be nicer if he’s at 100% [for the Tour],” Vingegaard mentioned, “I hope he’s at his finest stage.” Bu het was additionally insistent that simply because he had been defeated at Paris-Good by Pogačar, that didn’t change something in the summertime.
“Paris-Good was 4 months in the past and inbetween a whole lot of issues can occur. He was additionally stronger than me in Tirreno in 2022,” Vingegaard identified. “So I’m taking it simple for now. It [Paris-Nice] received’t determine the Tour.”
In the meantime Vingegaard is focussing strongly on his personal race program and crew. Jumbo-Visma shall be missing each defending Dauphiné champion Primoz Roglic at each the week-long occasion and the Tour de France, whereas one other high teammate, Wout van Aert has opted to skip the Dauphiné and race on the Tour de Suisse previous to heading to the Tour begin.
“I do know Primoz has his program, he did the Giro, and I believe it could be quite a bit for him to do the Tour as properly,” Vingegaard mentioned, all however dismissing the rumours Roglic is perhaps a late addition to the Jumbo Tour line-up. “For now, I’m focussing on the crew I’ve and I’m very proud of them.”
On the Dauphine that features Christophe Laporte, Nathan van Hooydonck, Steven Kruijswijk and Tiesj Benoot all of whom had been key assist riders for Vingegaard final July, in addition to Dylan van Baarle, who performed an analogous function for Ineos within the 2022 Tour earlier than signing for Jumbo-Visma over the winter.
What function for Wout van Aert?
As for the absence of Wout van Aert from the Dauphine, the place the Belgian received two phases and led the race for all bar sooner or later as much as the ultimate crunch mountain stage final 12 months, Vingegaard mentioned he was positive Van Aert’s choice to trip Suisse as a substitute would work out properly.
“I’m fairly positive Wout shall be the place he needs to be,” Vingegaard mentioned, “he has his personal objectives, I’ve mine. He wished to do the Tour de Suisse and I’ve to respect that, that’s his alternative.”
Regardless of the absence of a key participant like Roglic from the Jumbo line-up, he didn’t anticipate Van Aert to step up much more than he did final 12 months within the Tour de France, given Van Aert was already one of many strongest riders on virtually all terrains.
“That may be exhausting, we noticed Wout stepped up final 12 months already,” he reasoned. “He was on of my finest helpers. If he steps up (any extra) he’ll be a GC contender as a substitute.”
As for his personal progress, whereas the Dauphiné represents one other anticipated step alongside the best way, he recognised that COVID-19, such an element within the Giro d’Italia and final 12 months within the Tour, was “a fear”. Notably cagy about whether or not he would stop the Tour if he caught it – “I can’t reply that, hopefully it received’t occur,” was all he would say – Vingegaard was extra forthcoming about how he felt concerning the dangers normally and what Jumbo-Visma had been doing about them.
“For positive, it’s one thing must watch out about, we had been already cautious final 12 months, and now you get a bit scared seeing the way it was within the Giro d’Italia. So I’ve to remain focussed and attempt to not get sick.” The crew are utilizing single rooms of their accommodations he mentioned, “”and I keep in my very own room, strive to not shake fingers with individuals and keep away from an excessive amount of contact.”
After refusing pointblank to provide any examples of how he had modified his general build-up for the Tour between 2022 and 2023, Vingegaard confirmed that “You at all times attempt to enhance it, you look again up see what went properly and what didn’t then make it a greater one. We’ve additionally tried it this 12 months.”
The Dauphine, although, stays on this system, simply because it did in 2021 and 2022, and it’ll as soon as once more possible be Vingegaard’s final race earlier than the Tour de France. And even when the Dauphiné just isn’t an over-riding purpose, if there’s any doubt about Vingegaard’s ambition remaining unquenched, he resolved that along with his reply concerning the race – and racing normally.
“I’d prefer to win it, however not as revenge for something that occurred earlier than;” he defined. “I simply love to do in addition to doable each time.” And in July, after all, that will not be any completely different, both.