By Julien Pretot ROCAMADOUR, France (Reuters) – On the verge of failing to win a third straight Tour de France, risk-taker Tadej Pogacar said he would come back hungry for more but ice cool Jonas Vingegaard, who is set to take his crown on Sunday, has warned that one title will not be enough for […]
Cycling-Fire against ice as Pogacar throws down the gauntlet for Vingegaard
By Julien Pretot
ROCAMADOUR, France (Reuters) – On the verge of failing to win a third straight Tour de France, risk-taker Tadej Pogacar said he would come back hungry for more but ice cool Jonas Vingegaard, who is set to take his crown on Sunday, has warned that one title will not be enough for him.
Pogacar and Dane Vingegaard have fought tooth and nail for three weeks although the Slovenian’s take-no-prisoner approach has ultimately not paid off against the power of his rival’s Jumbo-Visma team as ice prevailed over fire.
This Tour has laid the foundations for a classic rivalry, which both are looking forward to renewing next year.
“I see a really big challenge in Jonas, who I couldn’t beat,” said Pogacar, who trails Vingegaard by three minutes and 34 seconds going into Sunday’s largely processional ride to the Champs Elysees in Paris.
“I’m looking forward to the next Tour de France to be better and get over this obstacle.”
Pogacar said he and his UAE Emirates team made some mistakes which cost them as Jumbo-Visma enjoyed a near-perfect Tour.
“I think I made the mistake of following every attack in that (10th) stage to the Col du Granon and in the end I paid dearly for it,” the Slovenian explained.
That day Pogacar withstood countless attacks from 2020 runner-up and compatriot Primoz Roglic and Vingegaard, eventually cracking in the final five kilometres and losing his yellow jersey to the Dane.
“We also were unlucky because we finished with only four riders (out of eight) with injuries and COVID.”
On the other hand, Jumbo-Visma “rode perfectly, they showed they were strong,” he added.
“But every year is a bit different. We hope we can get better luck next year and get better at small things and we can match this year’s Jumbo-Visma. This year is going to make me more hungry, more eager to win.”
The only problem for Pogacar is that Vingegaard has the same mindset.
“First of all I want to celebrate this one,” the 25-year-old told reporters.
“Of course I want to come back and win another one. I just want to come back and win it again.”
A later bloomer than 23-year-old Pogacar, Vingegaard always believed he could win the Tour, but had more self belief after finishing second overall last year.
“I knew from last year that I had the level to compete for the title but also to win it is something different,” he said.
“It’s just been really incredible. I always believed I had a chance to win the Tour but to do it is really incredible.”
To achieve his goal, Vingegaard has had to work on his composure, with the help of girlfriend Trine Hansen.
“She kind of always pushed me in situations,” he said. “If there was a situation I didn’t like she would push me into it to confront it and you slowly grow with this.
“You get more hair on the chest you could say.
“We made a plan if I got nervous. If I’d wake up early I would just have to get up, didn’t matter if it was five or eight in the morning, and get the day going. That really helped me.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)