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Tour de France

Tour de France: Jonas Vingegaard happy he could follow Tadej Pogačar’s attacks as he defends race lead on stage 14

Jumbo-Visma rider talks of his respect for rival and how he expects to come under attack in the Pyrenees.

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As a breakaway formed early in stage 14 of the Tour de France, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) found himself detached from the back wheel of his rival Tadej Pogačar.

The Slovenian took advantage of this rare moment of inattention and attacked with 180 kilometers still to race, forcing Vingegaard to chase and putting Jumbo-Visma under pressure.

“I wouldn’t say I was surprised but I was a bit too far [back] in the bunch to jump with him so in the end I had to close a small gap myself. But I did it and it didn’t cost me too much energy,” Vingegaard said in his post-stage press conference.

Also read:  Tadej Pogačar unleashes warning of what’s to come at Tour de France: ‘It’s not going to be easy days for Jumbo’

Since the Dane prised the yellow jersey from Pogačar’s shoulders in dramatic circumstances on stage 11, the former race leader and two-time defending champion has attacked numerous times in bids to reclaim it.

Theirs is an engrossing rivalry, seemingly founded on a deep respect for one another.

“I race against him but we live in two different places,” Vingegaard said. “I don’t have his phone number so I guess you can figure out how much we talk. I guess it’s more about how we have respect for each other. I think he’s a great guy and a really good bike rider so I have a lot of respect for Tadej.”

Pogačar attacked again on the final climb to Mende, distancing all the other GC contenders except Vingegaard. They gained 17 seconds on the next group across the line, containing David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).

“He did some good attacks. I also expected him to try today but I could follow and I’m happy that I could follow,” Vingegaard said.

Even Pogačar’s trademark powerful sprint at the line could not dislodge the yellow jersey.

“That’s another chance for him to take a few seconds but I just try to follow the wheel and so far I’ve been able to do it,” Vingegaard added. “I also think he will do it the next few stages and I’m not surprised he does it.”

Into the Pyrenees

There are more opportunities for this rivalry to develop in the coming days as three consecutive stages in the Pyrenees loom on the horizon.

“I expect Tadej to attack on every occasion he has but I want to take it day by day, so first of all there’s a day [to Carcassonne] tomorrow and then I’ll start looking forward to the Pyrenees,” Vingegaard said.

Although Vingegaard’s position is a defensive one as he seeks to protect a 2:22 lead over Pogačar, the Jumbo-Visma rider did not rule out launching some attacks of his own in the Pyrenees before the 40km time trial on Stage 20.

“Depends on the legs, I would say,” he said. “If I feel good, never say never. As it is now, it seems like a big gap but it’s also a long time trial so a lot of things can happen. Of course, if the opportunity is there then I can also try to attack him.”

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