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Tour de France

Jonas Vingegaard: ‘I still have confidence in my Tour de France team’

The Dane will need to stand up to one more serious challenge from Pogačar.

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Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) survived stage 17 of the Tour de France, and conceded just four meager seconds to Tadej Pogačar after the Slovenian and his UAE Team Emirates threw everything they had at the Dane.

Coming into the stage stage UAE’s strategy looked unclear after it was confirmed that Rafal Majka would not start due to an injury he sustained on stage 16, but the defending Tour de France champions, with just four riders left in the Tour, ripped the race apart on the the Hourquette d’Ancizan with Mikkel Bjerg setting a ferocious tempo before Brandon McNulty took over on the Col de Val Louron-Azet.

By the time the American turned around to survey the early damage, he had reduced the leaders group to just himself, his leader, Geraint Thomas, Nairo Quintana, Vingegaard and the Dane’s final teammate, Sepp Kuss.

Kuss was dropped soon after with Quintana and Thomas following suit as McNulty forced a pace over the top that only Pogačar and Vingegaard could follow.

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At the summit of the final climb to Peyragudes the two best riders in the race fought it out for the stage win with Pogačar taking his third victory of the race and clawing back four seconds on Vingegaard, who now leads the race with a 2:18 buffer on Pogačar.

The only dent in Vingegaard’s armor at this point appears to be his team, who were left wanting when McNulty blew the race apart. Vingegaard is already missing Primož Roglič and Steven Kruijswijk, after both abandoned the race before the last rest-day due to injuries. Although Jumbo-Visma has a numerical advantage over UAE Team Emirates at this point the team had no response on a collective scale when Pogačar’s men split the field. Bad luck or isolation appear to be Vingegaard’s greatest enemies at this point.

“I opened up but I know that I’m less explosive than Tadej,” Vingegaard said after losing the sprint to Pogačar on the line.

“That’s why I did a long sprint as that suits me the best,” said Vingegaard. “I still have confidence in my team. Sepp was still there with the five best and also the rest were very strong today. I still have confidence in my team and I think that we still have one of the strongest teams here.

“In the end it was a hard day today. I think Tadej gave good attacks but again I was happy to follow. He won the stage. A finish like this doesn’t suit me as well. For me it’s more like La Planche des Belles Filles. I think a day like tomorrow at Hautacam will suit me better.”

Hautacam will decide the outcome of this race. If Vingegaard maintains his current advantage over Pogačar then the yellow jersey in Paris is surely his. Pogačar needs to make inroads in the final mountain stage or his challenge is all but over.