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Tour de France

Jumbo-Visma says losing the 2020 Tour de France brought valuable lessons

Sport director explains how the trap was set on the Col du Galibier to isolate and attack Tadej Pogačar.

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The Jumbo-Visma team seized control of the Tour de France on Wednesday with a tactically brilliant assault on race leader Tadej Pogačar plus a final climb masterclass from 2021 Tour runner-up Jonas Vingegaard.

Commenting on the success, team manager Richard Plugge told Wielerflits that the late collapse of the team’s challenge in 2020 taught it valuable lessons, as have its grand tour successes.

“Winning the Vuelta a España three times with Primož Roglič has taught us a lot. How do you win a grand tour? You have to experience that once. That is not explained in a book.

“And losing the Tour of 2020 has also been a wise lesson learned. We have learned a lesson from that. That now means that we have to keep doing everything right step by step.”

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The team’s tactical masterpiece Wednesday up and over the Galibier was already in the works.

Setting the trap on the Col du Galibier

The team laid out its intentions early on, putting Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte in the day’s 20-man break. The riders in the bunch worked to isolate Pogačar from his team and then started firing off one-two attacks with Vingegaard and Roglič.

That happened in bursts during the race, taking a toll that only became obvious towards the end of the stage.

Roglič subsequently lost contact with the Pogačar/Vingegaard group but heading into the final 30 kilometers his teammate had the support of Van Aert, who had dropped back from the break, plus Steven Kruijswijk and Sepp Kuss.

They outnumbered the UAE Team, who had only Rafal Majka to support the race leader on the final climb.

Plugge said that there had been a clear tactic beforehand which explained the collapse of both UAE Team Emirates and Pogačar himself.

“It had to happen once with his team, which is severely weakened. You also saw that on the Galibier, where he had to close a lot of holes himself. Our intention was also to wear him down there, so that he would pay for those efforts later,” he said.

Sports director Grischa Niermann said that this explained what later happened on the Col du Granon.

“I don’t think Pogacar had a very bad day,” he told Wielerflits. “I think he wasted so much strength on the Galibier that he found himself a little bit lacking on the Granon because of it.

“We wanted to advance Primož Roglič on the Galibier, but he did not want to give Primož that freedom. With this, Primož has made a very large contribution to the exhaustion of Pogačar.

“After Primož had been ridden off [dropped], Pogačar himself led the way for a long time with Jonas in his wheel. I think this cost him a lot of strength. He made a very strong impression on the Galibier. He eventually had a breakdown. That is of course good for us.”

Likely wary about what happened in 2020, Niermann said that it is far too soon to presume Jumbo-Visma can win the Tour.

“Everyone has seen that we have a strong team. We are not afraid, but anything can still happen,” he said. “This lead is now worth defending. But there are still at least four very tough mountain stages. We are a long way from Paris.”

The team successfully defended the lead on Thursday’s stage to Alpe d’Huez, moving one day closer to the Champs Elysées.