PARIS – King of mountains. Champion on the Champs-Élysées.

In three weeks of epic racing, Jonas Wingegaard transformed from a talented rookie to a dominant leader in his own right to win his first Tour de France title on Sunday.

The former fish factory worker from Denmark dethroned reigning champion Thaddeus Pogacar with a memorable performance in the mountains in the biggest cycling race.

The 25-year-old Wingegaard, who finished second to Pogacar in his first Tour last year, excelled in the scorching heat that gripped France this month to come out on top in a thrilling duel with Pogacar, the heavy favorite at the start of the race.

Last year, Wingegaard competed as a replacement for Tom Dumoulin in the Jumbo-Wismo team. It was a revelation for Wingegaard when he realized he could challenge for the overall title after holding off Pogacar on the famous climb of Mont Ventoux, but his Slovenian rival was on top and largely untouchable.


A year later, Wingegaard took the top of the podium after claiming the triumph thanks to two phenomenal rides in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Three weeks ago in Copenhagen, the Jumbo-Visma team started the race with two leaders – Wingegaard and three-time winner of the Spanish Vuelta Primaz Roglich. But Roglic’s task took a hit when he suffered a dislocated shoulder and lost more than two minutes to Pogakar on the cobbled fifth leg of the race, leaving Wingegaard as the sole leader.

Since then, Vingegaard has more than exceeded expectations.

He made his intentions clear on the first big mountain stage up the Col du Granon to take the yellow jersey from race leader Pogacar, who was more than two minutes behind on the day. After receiving the famous tunic during the stage, which includes three monstrous alpine climbs, Wingegaard kept it until the end.

With the help of teammates, including the versatile Vout van Aert, Wingegaard responded to the relentless attacks that Pogakar produced on a daily basis. Such was his dominance in the mountains that, in addition to overall victory, Wingegaard also claimed the King of the Mountains jersey – not bad for a rider who hails from a country whose highest point is just 170 meters above sea level.


Wingegaard and Pogacar have clearly been in a class of their own this year as their nearest rival, 2018 Tour champion Geraint Thomas, was reduced to a mere spectator in the battle of the leaders. Thomas finished in third place.

Wingegaard scored a decisive blow in the Pyrenees, taking his second stage win in the Hautcam ski resort. There, the Dane responded to a series of attacks from Pogakar and eventually pulled away from the Slovenian on the final big mountain stage of this year’s race, extending his overall lead to more than three minutes.

Pogacar crashed about four kilometers (2 1/2 miles) from the finish on the final climb, and his hopes of winning a third straight title were all but over. He fought until the very end, but Wingegaard was once again the strongest in Saturday’s individual time trial and effectively secured the title.

“The battle between me and Jonas for the yellow jersey was special,” said Pogacar. “I think we have a very interesting next two to three years ahead of us. Jonas has stepped up his game this year.”


The light-framed Wingegaard is perhaps not as talented as Pogacar, who has shown over the past couple of years that he can win Grand Tours as well as the most prestigious one-day classic races.

But Vingegaard is certainly a fast learner.

Wingegaard made his first ascent before he was 16 years old. However, his climbing skills would not go unnoticed for long.

After setting a record time on the Cal de Reites during a training camp in Spain with his former team ColoQuick, he joined Jumbo-Visma in 2019 and quickly improved. In his first Tour last year, he showed proper leadership after Roglic crashed out of the race and followed up coolly to victory this summer.

The growing rivalry between Pogacar and Vingegaard brought new racing scenarios that delighted fans.

Both were equipped with strong teams capable of controlling the race in the mountains, an important element that has been a trademark of Ineos’ powerful teams over the past decade. But in many cases, both Pogacar and Wingegard were left to rely only on themselves at high altitude, fighting each other on equal footing.


Pagakar also brought a sense of old-fashioned romanticism with his long-range attacks. At 23, the UAE-Emirates team has a bright future.

Wingegaard became the first Dane to win the Tour since Bjarne Riis achieved the feat in 1996 at a time when doping was rampant in cycling.

After retiring from cycling, Riis admitted in 2007 that he had used the blood booster EPO between 1993 and 1998, including during a Tour victory.

Asked if his team should be trusted, Wingegaard said he and his teammates are “absolutely clean, every single one of us.”

“None of us accept anything illegal,” he added. “I think what makes us so good is the preparation we do. We’re taking high-altitude camps to the next level.”

Jasper Philipsen won Sunday’s final stage — basically a processional ride around Paris to the Champs Elysees — in a sprint ahead of Dylan Groenewegen and Alexander Christophe.


More AP Sports: and

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.

Source by [author_name]

Previous articleTrump’s Role in Capitol Riot ‘Most Serious Misdemeanor’ of Any US President
Next articleFire damages houses in southern Greece; more active lights