Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark will ride into Paris on Sunday as a first-time Tour de France champion after placing second in Saturday’s time trial.
“It’s hard for me to put words on it,” he said. “It’s both a relief, and I’m just so happy and proud.”
Vingegaard began the 25-mile time trial with the Tour title all but wrapped up thanks to a 3-minute, 21-second lead gained through the Alps and Pyrenees the previous two weeks.
He then posted the second-fastest time of the 139 riders in what is called “the race of truth,” trailing Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert by 19 seconds after nearly 48 minutes on the bike.
Vingegaard extended his advantage in the overall standings to 3:34 over Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, the two-time reigning Tour champion, after more than 76 hours on the bike over the last three weeks.
Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner, remained in third place overall to round out what will be the final podium on the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.
Vingegaard will become the second Dane to win the Tour after Bjarne Riis, who prevailed in 1996 and, a decade later after retiring, said he used banned performance-enhancing drugs throughout the 1990s, including during that Tour.
Vingegaard, 25, will become the first man to finish second and first in his first two Tours since German Jan Ullrich in 1996 and 1997.
Vingegaard was a revelation of the 2021 Tour, taking a distant runner-up to Pogacar in his second-ever Grand Tour. He started believing he could one day win a Tour when he dropped Pogacar on Mont Ventoux, one of the Tour’s iconic climbs.
“Since last year I always believed I could do it, and now it happened,” he said.
This year, the man who previously worked in a fish factory entered the Tour as a co-leader of Jumbo-Visma with Slovenian Primoz Roglic. But Roglic struggled early on and eventually withdrew after separating a shoulder (and popping it back in) in the first week.
Vingegaard’s victory is also a breakthrough first Tour title for the Dutch Jumbo-Visma outfit, which for years has been considered the best team in stage racing yet was thwarted by Pogacar in 2020 and 2021.
In 2020, Roglic squandered a 57-second lead on Pogacar going into the final time trial.
“What happened two years ago, we all were thinking about it,” Vingegaard said. “We didn’t want it to happen again.”
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk