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Jonas Vingegaard thinks he has been underrated, but he isn’t rating himself too highly, either.
Vingegaard blazed into the cycling spotlight this summer when he pulled out of teammate Primož Roglič’s wheel tracks and wrestled away the Tour de France from Tadej Pogačar.
It was an outcome few predicted, and that’s just fine by Jumbo-Visma’s iceman Dane.
“I actually always think people may have underestimated me a little bit. This was also the case for the Tour de France this year. Especially in the media, I would say, and I have no problem with that. And I don’t think I have any problem the other way either,” Vingegaard told DR.dk.
Vingegaard had just three WorldTour victories on his palmarès before he pummeled Pogačar out of a yellow jersey hat trick this July.
Finishing second behind Roglič at the crucial tune-up race the Critérium du Dauphiné the month before maybe said it all as Vingegaard saw secondary status behind his illustrious team captain.
Yet the anticipated Slovenian showdown at the 2022 Tour was derailed when Roglič crashed out and Vingegaard rose.
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Flash forward to the future and the world could still see that Pogačar-Roglič match-up at the 2023 Tour.
Jumbo-Visma bosses previously hinted to VeloNews that a title defense isn’t certain for Vingegaard as the Dutch powerhouse plots GC pathways through next year’s time trial-laden Giro d’Italia and explosive, unpredictable Tour de France.
“I would like to [be at the Tour], but whether it will be next year or the year after, we will have to see,” Vingegaard told the Danish outlet DR. “I have to talk to the team about it, and then we have to find a solution together.”
Among the best, but not the best
Vingegaard stalked close behind Jumbo-Visma nemesis Pogačar through both last year’s Tour and the 2022 Tirreno-Adriatico.
Beating back the two-time defending champion this summer wrote Vingegaard into the history books and accelerated him into the most elite echelon of the peloton.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic, but also really overwhelming,” he said. “When I think of the Tour de France, I think that it is the best riders in the world who win it. And then I think it just feels strange that it’s suddenly me who’s won it.”
The cycling Twittersphere is already chirping about the mouth-watering prospect of a Gen-Z gladiator match between Vingegaard, Pogačar, Egan Bernal, and world and Vuelta a España champion Remco Evenepoel in a future edition of the Tour de France.
Vingegaard suggested he’s maybe a band below multi-format racers like Pogačar or Evenepoel.
“I would say that I am among the best in the world, but I would not say that I am generally the best, no,” he said. “If you look at it overall, I have only performed in stage races. I haven’t really managed to perform in a one-day race yet.”
Winning the Tour ‘so big that it is difficult to deal with’
Vingegaard kept a low profile after he won the Tour this summer.
The 25-year-old pedalled a threadbare race program, dodged the end-of-season ceremonial crits, and ducked away from ASO’s presentation of its route for next year’s Tour.
“I haven’t avoided the media as such, but I haven’t sought it out either. I’ve just been relaxing and enjoying life and being at home,” he said.
“I still think winning the Tour is so big that it is somehow difficult to deal with. I always dreamed of riding the Tour de France, but of course I never dreamed of winning the Tour de France when I was little. Then I suddenly … well, it went so fast.”
Vingegaard saw a hero’s welcome at Copenhagen City Hall when he flew home from France this summer. Thousands of sports-mad Danes came to celebrate a new national sporting icon.
“I think that the storm has subsided a bit now. So there’s no big deal with people wanting selfies and autographs anymore. It was more the first period right after,” Vingegaard said, but added that life isn’t altogether back to normal.
“If I go out and shop over there, it is of course different,” he said. “And of course you won the Tour de France, but again, I’m still the same.”
Vingegaard will be the center of Jumbo-Visma’s ambition now that he captured the team’s long-sought Tour title. He may need to get used to the selfies, autographs, and Danish celebrity status.