Jonas Vingegaard will miss the Tour de France 2023 route presentation taking place in Paris this week, but has said that he is “up for the challenge” of defending his title next July.
In the wake of his victory in France, the Danish rider took an extended break from racing and his Jumbo-Visma team admitted that winning the Tour left the Dane needing time away from the spotlight.
In an interview with Cyclingnews, published on Wednesday, the 2022 champion says he is “ready” to return to France next July to defend the title.
“Being the defending Tour winner is always hard but I’m up for the challenge," Vingegaard said. "I know it’ll be harder and harder to win it but that’s part of the challenge and now I have the experience of winning on my side. I know I just have to focus on myself, to be the best I can at the 2023 Tour de France.”
As for next year, he added: "We haven’t talked in detail with the team and we haven’t made a final plan for 2023 but the idea is to go back to the Tour de France."
“I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the plan,” he added.
The 25-year-old won the Tour in convincing style in July, putting in the best performance of his entire career to land the yellow jersey in Paris. However, after stepping off the bike in the French capital, things would never be the same again leaving him needing time away to recover.
"THERE WAS NO EXPLOSION, NO MIND BOMB, I JUST NEEDED A BREAK"
Vingegaard played down reports of any major problems in the aftermath of his Tour victory saying reports of him struggling with his new found fame were "exaggerated".
“There was no explosion, no mind bomb. I just needed a break, that’s all,” he said.
This followed a similar tune to comments from Vingegaard and his team in July when questioned on how he coped with pressure, although his partner Trine Hansen, his mother Karina and former coaches told French newspaper L’Équipe that battles with anxiety had often wrecked previous chances of success.
As part of his extended break from racing, the Dane skipped his home race, the Tour of Denmark, before returning to action at the CRO Race in late September.
Several months after beating Tadej Pogačar to Tour victory, he explained that his disappearance from the public spotlight was that he simply needed to enjoy downtime with family.
“There were no problems, I just rested up and enjoyed some quality time with family and friends. I enjoyed a barbecue, a glass of wine or a beer. I don’t need much to be happy, even if I’ve won the Tour de France,” he added.
The 25-year-old drew criticism for his disappearance from public view, which meant missing the road World Championships in Australia, won by Remco Evenepoel, although he explained it would have been “a waste of time” to take part.
“I think it would have been a waste of time to go to Australia, the course just didn’t suit me,” Vingegaard said.
“Not a lot of people think I deserved to take extra time off in the summer but I appreciate the people who do.
"As long as the team believes in what we do and we get the results when it matters most, then we’re happy.”
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