Tour de France 2021: Jonas Vingegaard says stage 17 will be ‘hand-to-hand combat’ on the final climb

The summit finish on the Col du Portet is one of the toughest stages on the Tour, according to the Dane

Jonas Vingegaard on the attack in the 2021 Tour de France
(Image credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard predicts stage 17 of the Tour de France will be “hand-to-hand” combat on the final climb.

The Danish pro has been arguably the biggest revelation of this year’s race, as he stepped into a leadership role for Jumbo-Visma after Primož Roglič abandoned the race.

Vingegaard, 24, sits third overall heading into day 17 of the 2021 Tour and has been the only rider strong enough to ride away from yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).

Looking ahead to stage 17, a 178km run from Muret to Saint-Lary-Soulan, Vingegaard said: “It is one of the toughest stages of this Tour and it will be a hand-to-hand combat on the final climb.”

Stage 17 starts with a long and flat 100km run into the foot of the first climb, the Col de Peyresourde, followed by the Col de Val Louron-Azet, which crests around 30km from the finish.

The race will then be decided on the daunting Col du Portet, at 16.4km climb with an average gradient of 8.6 per cent, where the GC contenders will be hoping to try and expose some weakness in the almost untouchable Pogačar. 

Vingegaard is the only rider who has been able to put the Slovenian into trouble so far in this race, when he dropped Pogačar on the second ascent of Mont Ventoux on stage 11. But Pogačar was able to catch Vingegaard on the Ventoux descent, neutralising any time losses. 

Jumbo-Visma took up the fight again in the final 10km of stage 16, attacking on the punchy final climb and riding to the line to try and distance their rivals, but without making any dents in the overall top-10.

>>> Tadej Pogačar expresses confusion at 'strange' tactics of Tour de France rivals

Wout van Aert, another of Jumbo-Visma’s stars, said: “It was not a premeditated plan. Mike [Teunissen] yelled through the radio that a number of favourites were far behind in the peloton. That was the moment for us to try and put on some pressure. Especially since there was a crosswind in the final kilometres. It was definitely worth trying, but in the end it didn’t work out. Behind Pogačar it’s very close, so every second gained is good. We’re going to keep trying if the opportunity arises.” 

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.