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Boom! On stage 18, Jonas Vingegaard was Danish dynamite, matching Tadej Pogačar’s attacks and dropping him with five kilometers to go, winning the stage to Hautacam and extending his Tour de France lead.
It was a display of near-perfect Jumbo-Visma teamwork. Vingegaard was set up by the likes of Nathan Van Hooydonck and Tiesj Benoot, before American Sepp Kuss put in long stints on the Col de Spandelles and the final climb.
It was finished off by green jersey Wout van Aert, who had spent the day in front in the breakaway over three of the race’s hardest climbs.
Van Aert, who already secured the green points jersey this week, delivered several crucial minutes on the front for Vingegaard, dropping Pogačar before pulling off, still finishing third.
The Dane later paid tribute to his team, calling them “all incredible.”
“We got a lot of criticism with our idea to go for yellow and green but I think if you have a rider like Wout van Aert, you cannot tell him to come to the Tour just to ride for the other guys for GC and having no ambitions of his own,” Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann told journalists at the finish.
“When you see him every day in the green jersey and what a teammate he is, that’s just incredible, There’s not another guy like him.”
Vingegaard put 1:04 into his big rival to extend his advantage in the GC to 3:26. It was a job well done for Jumbo-Visma.
“There was no fear, we knew Jonas was really good. But we wanted to take some time and that did work out,” Niermann said.
“That was the goal also because we were confident that on the longer climbs, Jonas is really the better climber. He is the best climber in the world right now and he showed that again today.
“A stage like this is always interesting, you can never be sure. We knew Pogačar would attack a lot of times. It was real classy teamwork.
“I’m very proud of the boys and then Jonas finishing it off … we couldn’t have dreamed of a better day.”