Jonas Vingegaard treated himself to a glass of champagne on his Tour d’Honneur before he was frenetically celebrated by thousands of compatriots in red and white on the magnificent Champs Élysees boulevard. The slender boy from the fish factory in Jutland reached the goal of his dreams after 3343.8 kilometers on Sunday.
26 years after the now badly tainted triumph of Bjarne Riis, Danish Dynamite reigned supreme again at the Tour de France in Paris. “It’s been an incredible three weeks, a dream,” said Vingegaard after dethroning seemingly invincible defending champion Tadej Pogacar.
The tour, which ended on Sunday with Jasper Philipsen’s victory in the sprint royale in front of Dylan Groenewegen and Alexander Kristoff, saw the transformation of a man once plagued by self-doubt and nervousness into a sovereign winner. In the Alps and Pyrenees he didn’t reveal any weaknesses – and has long felt a desire for more. “I want to win even more,” said the 25-year-old, who also showed himself to be a great sportsman while waiting for him in the mountains after Pogacar’s fall. “We have a good relationship. We’re not friends, but we respect each other.”
So the tour can look forward to more big duels. Because Pogacar – this time more than three minutes behind second – is hot for revenge. “A lot of people want to see another winner. It’s not so bad to swap places. I found a stronger opponent. That gives me motivation to be better next year,” said the Slovenian, who was two years his junior and whose team had been decimated by several corona cases.
Vingegaard and his Jumbo Visma team, which included three-time stage winner and all-rounder Wout van Aert, crushed the competition. Simon Geschke also felt this, whose dream of becoming the first German mountain king was shattered in Paris on the last Pyrenees stage. In the meantime, the tears of the man with the full beard have dried. “I think I put on a nice show. It seems I’ve gained a lot of fans. Apparently I haven’t done anything wrong in the last few weeks,” said Geschke, who was named “winner of hearts” by compatriot Nils Politt.
For the smallest German faction with nine riders, it has been a tour of missed opportunities for 20 years. Lennard Kämna was only eleven seconds short of the yellow jersey in Megeve, and the North German missed the stage win in La Planche des Belles Filles by less than 100 meters. Nevertheless, Kämna, who dropped out after the second rest day because of a cold, was among the winners among the German drivers.
For the first time since 2019 there was no German stage win. The hosts weren’t much better, only celebrating on the third to last day and averting the biggest fiasco since 1999. Little Denmark celebrated for that. With the tailwind of the atmospheric Grand Départs, which appropriately took place in Copenhagen, there were four stage victories by Vingegaard, former world champion Mads Pedersen and Magnus Cort Nielsen.
It is not the first cycling boom that the country from the far north is experiencing. The last two times ended in great disappointment. Riis later admitted to having been doped in his triumph in the wake of the telecoms scandal, and Michael Rasmussen was ripped off the yellow jersey near the end of 2007 and sent home for misrepresenting whereabouts to doping control officers. He also later admitted to doping.
According to Vingegaard, times have changed. “We’re totally clean. All of us. I can speak for the whole team. None of us take anything forbidden,” said the new tour patron. Rasmussen, now a journalist on the tour, spoke of a “nonsensical question”. He does not know any active driver who confesses something in front of the camera.
The tour has not registered a doping case since 2015, but there were 17 corona cases this year. As in society, this is now normal due to the easing of restrictions. The four-time Tour champion Chris Froome and the German Max Walscheid experienced the Tour finale only at home in front of the TV.