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BRIANÇON, France (VN) – When the dust finally settled on an epic day of racing at the Tour de France it was hard to remember a more complete team display than the one posted by Jumbo-Visma on stage 11.
The dominance and sacrifice was so complete that they managed to turn a 39 seconds deficit into a lead of 2:22 over previous race leader Tadej Pogačar. To put that into context, the Dutch team finally showed that its nemesis was human and after a relentless day of attacking they not only cracked Pogačar but they completely wrestled control of the race from the Slovenian.
Neither of those two things have ever happened since Pogačar waltzed into the WorldTour and began to set the tempo for his era of success.
There was a cost, of course. Primož Roglič, who had started the day with a sliver of hope for the GC was completely sacrificed after a series of stunning attacks on the Telegraphe and Galibier that laid the groundwork for his teammate and now race leader Jonas Vingegaard to exploit on the Col du Granon.
“It’s crazy. It’s a super nice day for us. It was hard and full gas racing and in the end the strongest rider won. I cracked myself but I didn’t care. I just went full,” the Slovenian told the press as he motioned for a jacket at the summit finish.
When Roglič said he didn’t care there was a huge degree of truth to that statement. His crash on the cobbles and subsequent time loss were always going to hamper his hopes in the mountains but he was still enough of a threat for Pogacar to chase throughout the stage.
“We decided with Primož that we could maybe play a bit and take some time and put the team of Pogačar under pressure,” Steven Kruijswijk said at the finish.
“I think that we saw that on the Galibier pretty well with some attacks and the guys on the front. Then on the last climb it was up to Jonas himself and he was fine. We were really good, and we have a really strong team. I think that you saw that from stage number one in Denmark. We had ambitions for yellow and green so far we lost Primoz in the GC fight but with Jonas we are in a good position. We went all in and then it was a question of seeing how Pogačar would react.”
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The battle was most definitely won on the Col du Granon but the war is far from over. Pogačar will not give up his Tour de France crown without a fight and his recovery from stage 11 will be key as the race heads for another summit finish atop Alpe d’Huez on stage 12. Jumbo-Visma discounted the Slovenian once before, back in 2020, and it cost them the Tour de France. They will not want to be burned for a second time in three years.
“He was still impressive because he was attacking on the Galibier but we thought that the final climb could also grind him down. He never gives up, so we have to concentrate until Paris,” added Kruijswijk.
Team general manager Richard Plugge was more direct in his assessment after the race.
“We want to crack him definitively, but it’s not for nothing that he won the Tour twice. He is a special rider, but we have yet to crack him. We still have a week and a half to do that.”
The Dutch team smell blood but can they go for the kill before the race leaves the Alps?