Jonas Vingegaard definitely stunned the Tour de France during the queen stage won by Felix Gall on Wednesday in Courchevel where Tadej Pogacar, face of ash, suffered a terrible failure in the Col de la Loze.
This time, it’s well and truly over: four days before the finish in Paris, the Dane is 7 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of his competitor, a dizzying gap which ensures him, barring an accident, a second victory in in a row in the Grande Boucle.
“To have more than seven minutes in advance is obviously great, a real relief, but we are not yet in Paris”, delayed Vingegaard, fourth in the stage after being briefly delayed by a motorbike which had stalled. .
The 26-year-old Dane obviously cannot say otherwise. But how to imagine that he could squander such a lead when the two ogres were still held in ten seconds two days earlier? Especially since he still seems fresh as a roach, while Pogacar seems totally at the end of his rope.
“I don’t know what happened, I arrived at the bottom of the last ascent completely empty”, commented the Slovenian who experienced an ordeal, even worse than during his crack at the Col du Granon last year. .
Unrecognizable, white as a sheet, undertaker’s dark circles and bloody left knee after a fall at the start of the stage, Pogacar gave in 7.8 km from the summit, when we had not even reached the steepest slopes. severe.
” I am dead “
In perdition, he was towed by his teammate Marc Soler, although not exactly a chamois this year, to the finish line drawn up at the Courchevel altiport.
He walked through it, shaking his funeral head, while Soler tapped his shoulder and whispered words of consolation in his ear.
On the clock, the damage is terrible: 7:37 behind the astonishing Austrian Felix Gall, who proved to be the strongest of a yet royal breakaway.
And 5:45 behind Vingegaard who had already hit him hard on the head the day before during the stopwatch overflown by the yellow rocket.
It was nothing compared to the Stations of the Cross experienced on Wednesday by Pogacar in the endless slopes of the Col de la Loze, 28.1 km with passages at 24% in the final.
The Slovenian, cannibal of modern times, had never experienced such a failure on a bike. “I gave up, I died”, he said during a radio conversation with his sports directors when we were still far from the summit planted at 2304 m, roof of this Tour.
“I ate a lot, but it didn’t go down to my legs,” commented the leader of UAE, who doesn’t like the heat or the altitude. Both were on the program.
“I’m not taking anything”, repeats Vingegaard
Pogacar said no more, while former champion Philippe Gilbert noticed that a cold sore had appeared on his lip in recent days, often a sign of general fatigue.
The Slovenian’s preparation had been greatly disrupted by his fractured left wrist in a fall during Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 23.
His third coronation ambitions in ruins, he was reduced to hoping to recover to “offer a stage” to his team during the last four episodes of this 110e Tour de France season.
As for Vingegaard, who rushed into the arms of his wife and their little girl on arrival, he must now fight against another adversary: suspicions of doping, returned thanks to his ultra-dominance.
“I understand it’s hard to trust cycling with what’s happened in the past. But I can tell you with my hand on my heart: I don’t take anything and I wouldn’t take anything that I wouldn’t give to my daughter, ”he assured a press conference where two questions were on the subject.
Felix Gall was “overjoyed” after the second victory of his career, following that of the Tour de Suisse in June where he had made a very strong impression.
Arrived on the Tour in a role of teammate, the 25-year-old Austrian was propelled leader in place of Ben O’Connor, too fair but who ideally launched him into the vertiginous ramps of Loze on Wednesday.
“It’s amazing to have teammates working for you,” he said.