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The team of Jonas Vingegard is keeping ice cool ahead of the 40.7-kilometer time trial likely to make real the team’s dream of a yellow jersey on Saturday.
“We did a lot of testing in the wind tunnel in the winter, personalized handlebars, better equipment. We’re actually looking forward to it,” team director Merijn Zeeman told VeloNews.
Vingegaard rides toward the long lumpy race into Rocamadour on Saturday with a near-unassailable 3:26 lead over Jumbo-Visma’s archrival Tadej Pogačar.
Also read: VeloNews’ Tour de France stage 20 first look
The flying former fishmonger only has Friday’s sprinter-suited stage to Cahors to navigate before he clips into the TT bike Saturday.
Wout van Aert and Jumbo-Visma’s wingmen will mass around Vingegaard’s flanks as it closes in on its yellow jersey as the race rolls away from the Pyrenees ahead of a likely fast-finish.
3:26 to toy with
Vingegaard went faster than Pogačar when the Slovenian eased to his second title in last year’s penultimate stage time trial. However, Vingegaard is mostly second-best on his aero machine and rides into Sunday’s race to Rocamdour two-six down in TT tests.
But with more than three minutes to lean on and a wave of confidence in Vingegaard’s legs, Jumbo-Visma’s three-year wait for the maillot jaune is within reach.
“TTs suit him well. How he compares to Pogačar, that’s something that we have to see – but we are confident in the TT,” Zeeman said.
Like any top WorldTour team, Jumbo-Visma ironed out every TT crease ahead of time.
Recons were completed and pre-race protocol were mapped months ago. Jumb0-Visma time trial specialist Mathieu Heijboer is already back in Rocamadour amassing added research.
The only wrinkle left remaining is the yellow skinsuit Vingegaard will be required to wear should the GC situation remain the same Saturday.
Race-provided garb from clothing manufacturer Santini makes for a different fit and feel to Jumbo-Visma’s AGU racewear – but the story is the same for Pogačar and his white young rider classification kit.
“It’s not ideal, but the ASO and Santini are doing a good job. On the other hand, we don’t know much about if it’s fast or not so we should trust it’s ok,” Heijboer told VeloNews.
No 2020 repeat?
Heading into a decisive Tour de France time trial with a big buffer isn’t something new to Jumbo-Visma.
Primož Roglič rocked into the La Planche des Belles Filles time trial in 2020 with 57 seconds over Pogačar only to see the jersey pulled from his back in the space of 36 crushing kilometers.
The sprinter stage Friday sees one extra opportunity for Pogačar to bring the Dane closer to time trial range. Pogačar has it all to play for.
“The Tour de France is a day-by-day race, you saw that already last Sunday,” Zeeman said, referring to the drama seen when his team almost came unraveled in Carcassonne.
“Whatever happens in the sprint day, on the day of the time trial, you have to go as fast as possible, and anything is possible, also taking time,” Zeeman added. “And that’s how we approach it.”
Vingegaard likely won’t need to take time on Pogačar on Sunday. But nobody’s betting against him doing it anyway.