Jonas Vingegaard remained optimistic on his chances of landing a second Tour de France overall victory despite being dropped by Tadej Pogačar on the iconic Puy de Dôme on Sunday.
The Dane shipped eight seconds to the UAE Emirates rider in the fight for the yellow jersey on stage nine, but with the Alps on the horizon, suggested he could turn the tide and extend his advantage at the top of the general classification.
Speaking to the media after the stage, Vingegaard said that he was simply satisfied to still be in yellow with one week chalked off at the French Grand Tour.
“I mean it would have been nice to have stayed with him [Pogačar] of course and not lose any time but still as I've said before I think the first few days didn't really suit me,” Vingegaard said. “I think there are stages that suit me more later on.
“So to still be actually in yellow after one week is something I'm really happy with.”
The stage was won by Michael Woods of Israel-Premier Tech with the breakaway being given licence to stay away and fight it out for the win. Vingegaard explained that he felt the stage win was never something Jumbo or their rivals UAE Emirates had in mind.
“Yeah, I mean with the breakaway gone we didn't want to go for the stage,” he explained. “If they would have liked to control then the break could have been like 40 mins or something, so I don't think they wanted to control either I guess.”
The baking hot conditions on the road had a notable effect on the action, although Vingegaard said that he felt they did not impact him on a personal level.
“It was a very hot day and very very steep [on the climb],” he said. “But it was still a nice experience to go out and race on the Puy de Dôme, it's a really nice climb.
“Actually I felt quite okay [in the heat] but as I said before, I think these kinds of stages suit him a bit better than me and I just had to try to follow him and yeah, he was just a bit better than me again today.”
“I think there are stages that suit me a lot better than this in the coming weeks. So I'm really looking forward to coming into the Alps,” Vingegaard argued.
Just a handful of days ago, the Jumbo-Visma rider put serious time into his main rival for overall victory with a blistering attack on the Col de la Marie-Blanque in the heart of the Pyrenees on stage five.
In the aftermath in Laruns, Vingegaard said that he felt he was feeling “better and better” as the race went on. Now, with Pogačar gradually chipping away at the Dane’s lead, it appears that it’s now the Slovenian who is starting to come into form.
When Vingegaard was asked whether he thinks it’s in fact Pogačar who is starting to feel better as the race goes on, the Danish rider brushed off the question and said he prefers to focus on his own performance and let his racing do the talking.
“I think you'll have to ask Tadej about that,” he said. “When I prepare myself for the Tour I don't really think about him, I think about myself I think about how I can improve and how I can get into the best possible shape when I stand on the start line for the Tour de France.”
Outside the buses post-stage in the afternoon heat, riders and staff on the Jumbo-Visma squad appeared slightly downbeat after witnessing their leader lose time once more to Pogačar.
Nevertheless, Jumbo sports director Arthur van Dongen remained optimistic regarding Vingegaard’s position going into the Tour’s first rest day in Clermont-Ferrand.
“We are still in yellow, and we are still on track,” he said. “The team is strong and good, and a lot can happen. No worries about that.
“There are still two weeks until Paris, the time trial is coming up. A lot of stages with a lot of mountains, today it was only the final, maybe that was in Pogačar's favour. We see a lot of opportunities for Jonas.
With Pogačar seemingly growing in strength and confidence at the race, Van Dongen was asked whether he believes the advantage now lies with the Slovenian.
Van Dongen said: “When I look at the last two mountain stages, at the moment he's a bit more of a favourite than Jonas, but we know it's not just these two days. It's only important that you're in Paris in yellow, and we are still in yellow.”
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