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the fervor in Denmark, the Vingegaard-Pogacar duel, the management of Covid-19… What we liked and disliked during this 109th edition

End clap on the 109th edition of the Tour de France. The runners closed an exciting Grande Boucle on Sunday 24 July. The Jumbo-Visma team won almost all the distinctive jerseys while some formations disappointed. On the side of the roads, the images of fervor in Denmark and in the passes will remain etched in the memories of the riders and viewers of this Tour de France, which has unfortunately not been spared by the Covid-19.

An incomparable fervor in Denmark

Did all of the Danish people converge on the Tour de France route at the beginning of July? In any case, that’s the impression he gave us, as the crowd was numerous along the roads all along the three stages in Denmark. An audience necessarily a source of motivation for the runners, but also of fatigue, as the noise on the side of the roads was constant over the hundreds of kilometers of the course.

And if, on the sporting side, the first stages did not involve great difficulties, the Danes were able to count on one of their own, Magnus Cort-Nielsen, to animate the race. The rider from the EF Education-EasyPost team offered himself the luxury of leading the way, even winning the polka dot jersey that made his compatriots proud.

A breathtaking Vingegaard-Pogacar duel

Both of them passed the pitfalls of the first week, to better engage in a fierce battle during the rest of the event. Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, already leaders of the general classification last year, once again competed for the yellow jersey on the course of the 2022 edition. It was the Slovenian who put on the precious tunic first, but the double title holder had to abandon him, victim of a craving, in the ascent of the Col du Granon. Victorious at the top of this already legendary stage, Jonas Vingegaard grabbed the yellow jersey and never let go despite Pogacar’s numerous attacks.

The UEA-Team Emirates rider launched offensives wherever he could to reduce his gap in the general classification, without however managing to let go of the Dane, glued to his wheel. The two men finally shared the last two stage victories in the mountains, in the Pyrenees, but their young age (Pogacar is 23, Vingegaard 25) promises us new battles in the years to come.

Wout van Aert’s panache

With three stage victories on the clock, the Belgian is voracious. And again, Wout van Aert finished second four times in this Tour de France. For the first time in his career, the powerful Jumbo-Visma rider also wore the yellow jersey for four days, before losing it with panache between Binche and Longwy.

No yellow? Too bad, the Belgian fell back on the green jersey, very quickly acquired, and was in a position to fight for the best climber’s polka dot jersey when he arrived in Hautacam, which he ultimately did not win. obtained since he put himself at the service of Jonas Vingegaard. “Wout is incredible. He always has a strong desire to win, but he is also a team player. You can count on him”summed up his teammate Sepp Kuss.

A journey without downtime

While the stages in Denmark had not kept all their promises (without curbs, especially on the Great Belt Bridge), the Tour came alive as soon as it returned to France. Wout van Aert’s incessant attacks certainly had something to do with it, as did the pace set by the peloton, the fastest in the history of the Tour de France with an average speed of 42.114 kph. In the mountains, the duel between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar was passionate and the mental strength of the sprinters to meet the deadlines impressed. Even in the flat stages, the Grande Boucle turned out to be lively thanks to the breakaways in which renowned riders often slipped.

The reluctance of some teams

If Jumbo-Visma, UAE-Team-Emirates or EF-Education EasyPost showed the jersey, other formations were very discreet. The Bahrain-Victorious formation, in the eye of the storm after the searches before the big departure from Copenhagen, was almost invisible and made people forget their three victories of last year. Damiano Caruso, Dylan Teuns or Matej Mohoric went through this Tour in the shadows.

The Movistar formation, great animator of the Tour at the time of Valverde and Quintana, seems a far cry from its former glory, despite the attempts of the promising Jorgenson and the eye-catching Mas. Astana also seems to be falling into line and only “saving” its Tour thanks to Alexey Lutsenko’s excellent third week. But the Kazakhstanis did not worry anyone.

Ineos-Grenadiers did not miss their Tour with 3rd place for Geraint Thomas, but the British team sought more to keep their podium than to reverse the race to win it. Finally, we would have liked to see Pierre Rolland and Franck Bonnamour, the super combative of the Tour 2021, a little more on the attack, who were unable to influence the race.

Management of Covid-19 difficult to read

The Covid-19 did not overwhelm this 109th edition but it upset the balance of the race. Some teams, like AG2R-Citroën and UAE-Team-Emirateshave been decimated, while others have had no positive cases.

The “bubble” around the runners was also a source of questions. Very attentive to wearing a mask and barrier gestures, the teams had to deal with an unmasked public and sometimes very close to them. A situation that prompted the organizer ASO to block, after a week, access to the buses of the teams at the start for journalists and guests… even though it was still accessible at the finish.

The scale of the polka dot jersey

Has the polka dot jersey lost its flavor? While it was previously reserved for a long-term adventurer capable of playing with the best, it seems to be in a wobbly situation today. By removing the double stitches at the top of off-category collars, ASO wanted to avoid seeing a favorite wearing it by default. Failed since the yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard will be the winner… without ever wearing it.

Conversely, the scenario is cruel for Simon Geschke, its brave carrier for nine stages, who lost it for a few points during the last climb of this edition, at Hautacam. But it is also symptomatic: he who is not a pure climber had only passed two 1st category passes in the lead, and therefore risked losing it. The Tour de France therefore seems to have difficulty adjusting its formula: how to avoid seeing it involuntarily confiscated by the favorites while devoting a pure climber?

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