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ROCAMADOUR, France (VN) – Throughout this year’s Tour de France, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) has surfed through press conference after press conference without facing a single question on the topic of doping, but at his winner’s press event at the end of stage 20, the Dane was asked why cycling should believe in his performance and credibility of his dominating win.
The question, which was both fair and well-phrased, came from journalist Kate Wagner, who asked why the public and the sport in general should believe in Vingegaard’s Tour de France win.
To be clear, every Tour de France winner in the modern era has been asked this question, from Lance Armstrong through to Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Chris Froome, and most recently Tadej Pogačar.
It isn’t necessarily a question wrapped in insinuation but it does give the athlete in the yellow jersey the opportunity to make a stance and provide a statement on a topic that continues to dog the sport.
The question also provides the press with a chance to hear the race winner go on record when it comes to the subject.
Vinegegaard’s near 20-minute press conference was not even a third of the way through when the question arrived. He cleared his throat before answering.
“We’re totally clean. Everyone of us. I can say that to everyone of you,” he told the gathered media and photographers after stage 20.
“No one of us is taking anything illegal. I think why we’re so good is the preparation that we do. We take altitude camps to the next step. We do everything with material, food, and training. The team is the best within this. That’s why you have to trust.”
🎽 Jerseys after stage 20 / Maillots distinctifs après l’étape 20
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 23, 2022
Vingegaard was asked how he had transformed from 22nd in his national time trial championships in 2019 to almost winning the final time trial of this year Tour de France on a day that saw Jumbo-Visma go 1-2 on the stage after Wout van Aert took another stage win.
“Aerodynamics. Of course I would say that I’m a better rider now. I push more watts but I think that I’m way more aerodynamic now. We’ve done a lot of tests in the wind tunnel and on the track,” he said. “We’ve really worked on this. It paid off.”
‘I want to come back to try and win another’
This was Vingegaard’s first press conference as a Tour de France winner. He was asked about a range of other topics, from his hobbies, to his hopes for his legacy in the future. At 25, he has many opportunities to come back and win multiple Tours.
He was near-perfect throughout this race in terms of marking his nearest rival Tadej Pogačar without going into the red or allowing his concentration to drop.
On stage 11 to the summit of the Col du Granon the Dane bullied and outthought a weary Pogačar, exploiting the weaknesses within the Slovenian’s team to snatch yellow.
From that moment on Vingegaard looked in total control. He withstood attacks from Pogačar on the Alpe d’Huez, the stage to Mende, and throughout the Pyrenees before eventually dropping the UAE Team Emirates leader on the final summit finish to Hautacam to seal his maiden Tour de France win. After finishing second in last year’s race to Pogačar, the Dane’s win was as comprehensive as it was calculating.
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) July 23, 2022
As far as winner’s press conferences go, Vingegaard’s performance in front of the cameras was very similar to Chris Froome’s during his years of domination. Like Froome, the Dane was concise, polite and swift with his answers. Nothing long, nothing that went below surface level and the only difference came through body language.
Whereas Froome would religiously put the mic down between each question and answer, before starting afresh as if this was a form of media training to reset himself, Vingegaard hugged the microphone with both hands and reeled off answers almost metronomically.
“I believe way more in myself than I did then,” he said when asked about his previous years in the sport.
“I’m just more mature, more grown up and I think that really helped me. I grew up.”
When asked about his possible legacy and his desire to win more Tours in the future the Jumbo-Visma rider made clear that he would return in 12 months time to defend his title but that he had no current ambition to win equal the record of five Tour de France titles.
“First of all I want to just celebrate this one. I want to come back to try and win another one but it’s not like I have a goal of wanting to win five. I just want to try and come back and win it again.”
It’s not just Vingegaard who has bossed this year’s Tour de France. His entire Jumbo-Visma team has been on point. The Dutch outfit has won yellow, green, polka-dot jerseys and six stages. It could add to that tally in Paris if Wout van Aert can claim the sprint in the French capital for the second time running.
Jumbo-Visma has been in a league of its own, while Van Aert’s performances have simply been jaw-dropping. He has dropped pure climbers of the caliber of Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) on Hautacam, even distancing Pogačar on the climb, and competed for time trials, breaks, points, and anything on offer in the race.
He has shown no level of fatigue, a point that rival Geraint Thomas (Ineos-Grenadiers) made during his post-stage press conference. As a team this has edged even the total control that Team Sky exerted on the race during its spell of authority.
“We came here with the goal of green and yellow,” Vingegaard said.
“Then of course you’d like to win some stages but to win six stages, the yellow, the green and the polka-dot, it’s really special. I think that we couldn’t dream of a better Tour.”
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 23, 2022