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Jonas Vingegaard didn’t have the horsepower to handle Pogačar at the “Race to the Sun” earlier this month in what might be their only sparring match ahead of the Dane’s maillot jaune defense.
“We learned from Paris-Nice, but we won’t let it be a problem. We are very confident in our approach for Jonas and the Tour,” Jumbo-Visma performance director Mathieu Heijboer told VeloNews.
Heijboer revealed Vingegaard was put out of whack by “private issues” in the days before the race into the Cote d’Azur.
The Jumbo-Visma captain saw the high of emphatic victory at O Gran Camiño nosedive into defeats across all three climbing stages in the prestigious French race.
“We know from before that Jonas and the whole team have to be 100 or maybe 110 percent to be able to beat Pogačar,” Heijboer said in a call last week. “Jonas just wasn’t in the right place mentally at Paris-Nice.
“With an amazing opponent like Pogačar, you just can’t be at 99 percent to beat him. We knew that already, and unfortunately we saw it at Paris-Nice. But the team, Jonas, we understand why it happened and are confident in what we’re doing.”
The winner’s academy at thin air
Pogačar and Vingegaard won’t likely see each other again until they click into the pedals for the Tour’s Basque start this July.
Vingegaard heads toward Itzulia Basque Country before blocks at altitude and a final tune-up at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Pogačar’s “race-it-all” approach takes his Merckxian rampage through the northern and Ardennes classics, and the Slovenia tour.
Heijboer wasn’t worried by what he saw at Paris-Nice and is sticking square to the master plan.
The Dutch staffer is confident Vingegaard can max out his engine to the “110 percent” he needs to overpower Pogačar with boot camps at thin air in Teide and Tignes.
“We’ve been going to altitude a very long time, and I think we’re close to finding a winning formula every time. And we’ve seen it works for Jonas,” Heijboer said.
“We evaluate every training camp we do and optimize that plan every year, but also in the year. So, what we learned with Jonas in February will help for his camp in May, and that will help for the Tour de France.”
Jumbo-Visma took what Team Sky learned last decade about altitude training and took it to a new level. Riders like Wout van Aert and Primož Roglič have dropped straight out of thin air and directly onto the winner’s podium.
The powerhouse Dutch squad even booked out so many rooms this winter at the highly sought Parador hotel on Teide that the rest of the peloton was put on a waiting list.
“To be able to get to perform at the highest level in the races we want, we can come very close with altitude training. Physiologically, we have all the tools and training sessions in hand,” Heijboer said.
“The only thing you cannot mimic is the nervousness in the peloton and the accelerations, etc. So there’s always a place for races in preparing for a big event. For Jonas, Pays Basque will be big for that.”
‘It’s a gift for us to have such an amazing opponent’
Pogačar rolls into Friday’s E3 Classic with nine wins in 14 days this season. Milan-San Remo last weekend saw the UAE Emirates megastar only a few watts short of a fourth monument title.
Jumbo-Visma will bring its very deep bench and every element of its pioneering approach to training, nutrition, and recovery to the Tour de France in its bid to beat back what is a generational talent.
“I think it’s a gift for us that we have such an amazing opponent,” Heijoboer said. “Pogačar pushes us to the very end to do all the things we do at the optimum to try to beat him. So I’m grateful for that.”