Jonas Vingaard hails Tour de France rival Tadej Pogačar ‘one of the greatest riders of all time’

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ALPE D’HUEZ, France (VN) — Jonas Vingaard and Tadej Pogačar exchanged a grimacing smile during a brief break in hostilities in Alpe d’Huez on Thursday.

It was a dark admiration for their ability to hurt themselves.

“It was a matter of mutual respect. I can only speak for myself, but I have a lot of respect for Tadej, and I think the opposite,” explained Vingaard after successfully defending his yellow jersey for the first time on Thursday.

“He can do anything. He’s already one of the greatest drivers of all time, I would say. I have a lot of respect for him and I think it comes down to that.

Vingegaard and his yellow jersey rival lit up the final corners of the Alpe on stage 12 of the Tour de France in scenes first seen on Mont Ventoux last summer.

The dynamite Dane dropped Pogačar on the Ventoux flanks in the UAE captain’s only flash of weakness in his blistering drive to a second Tour title.

It proved a flash of things to come for the Jumbo-Visma ace.

Twelve months later, Vingaard is back, and this time he’s the one in yellow.

“I think mentally I’ve grown a lot [since the 2021 Tour]Vingaard told the news group. “We saw last year that I already had the level, and then this year I have much more confidence, and I have confidence in myself. I have grown mentally.

Read also : Vingegaard doesn’t wait to finish second behind Pogačar

Vingaard will need every inch of mental resilience in the nine stages ahead. Pogačar came back swinging on the Alpe’s 21-corner climb in a sign that he won’t be out lying after his disaster day in the Alps on Wednesday

“He was strong today, and luckily I was able to follow him. I’m happy about that, of course,” Vingaard said. [Pogačar] and wasted no time. So yes, today was a good day.

Vingeard has the daunting task of defending yellow for some time before the Tour reaches Paris.

Pogačar cut a confident cloth wearing the yellow jersey and its Danish rival has a whole new burden of lectures, tests and protocol to follow.

“I’m just going to take it day by day. So now we just have to focus on tomorrow,” Vingaard said. “We’ll just have to see day by day how I feel and then we’ll make a plan from there.”

If the last three kilometers of the Alpe showed anything, it was that the smile exchanged between Vingegaard and Pogačar was only on the surface on Thursday.

Expect a show in the second half of this Tour de France.

“Now that I have this beautiful jersey, I will do everything I can every day to try to keep it,” promised Vingaard.

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