Jonas Vingegaard has suggested he was in the best shape of his life when he won the 2022 Tour de France, but acknowledged that victory in cycling’s biggest race also hinges on surviving and avoiding crashes and injuries.
The 25-year-old Dane was riding only his second Tour, but thanks to excellent support from the Jumbo-Visma team he was able to overcome the dangers of the first week, beating Tadej Pogačar to the finish atop the Col du Granon and then defending the yellow jersey to Paris.
“I think we prepared really well and I was in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I was thinking that I had a very good chance to win the Tour de France this year. Of course, anything can happen, it’s the Tour de France, you can crash, you can lose time,” Vingegaard said. Flobikes (opens in a new tab) while in Japan for the Saitama Tour de France criteria.
Vingegaard survived what could have been a nasty crash on stage 15, nearly crashing and then sportingly waiting for Pogacar when he went off the road during stage 18, then avoiding going off track during the final time trial.
He won the Tour by 2:43, the victory changing his life, but he admitted the three-week race could have been very different.
“The Tour de France is tough, anything can happen,” he said.
“If you’re lucky if you get through it without crashing. I’ve done it twice and I think I’ve crashed three or four times. You’ll go down at one point and it’s all about how you get back up.”
Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma dominated the 2022 race. The team won six stages, with Wout van Aert winning three as he dominated the green jersey and assisted Vingegaard on all terrains. Christophe Laporte also won a stage, while Vingegaard won at the Col du Granon and then at Hautacam in the yellow jersey.
His teammate and co-leader Primož Roglič was not so lucky. He crashed on the Paris-Roubaix stage and eventually left the Tour before stage 15 due to injuries to himself, and Steven Kruijswijk also crashed on the same day.
By contrast, Vingegaard avoided losing time on the cobbles despite his comical bike change after a mechanical problem. The cycling gods also seemed to watch over him on stage 18 when he dropped his chain on the last descent of the Col de Spandelles.
“That was the scariest moment; when I almost crashed on a descent,” she recalled.
However, there were also moments that indicated that Vingegaard could win the Tour before defeating Pogačar at the Granon.
“I think the first was La Planches des Belle Filles. I thought it was more suitable for Tadej, but I also had a feeling that he was not stronger than me that day. So I gained a lot of confidence for the longer climbs,” Vingegaard suggested.
Winning the Tour de France made Vingegaard a national hero in his home Denmark after the race started in the capital Copenhagen, but he retired to his family life in northern Denmark, only returning for a brief block of racing. end of season.
Vingegaard’s wife and daughter traveled to Singapore and Saitama with him when their off-season vacation ended. He will soon start preparing for 2023.
Jumbo-Visma has yet to confirm its race leaders for 2023, but hopes to return to the Tour de France even if it would have preferred more time trials on the hilly route.
“We have not spoken in detail with the team and we have not made a final plan for 2023, but the idea is to return to the Tour de France. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the plan,” Vingegaard said. cyclingnews Recently.
“Being the defending Tour champion is always difficult, but I am up for the challenge. I know it will be more and more difficult to win it, but that is part of the challenge and now I have the experience of winning on my side. I know that I just have to focus on myself, to be the best I can be in the 2023 Tour de France.”