Jonas Vingegaard takes yellow at Tour de France: ‘It would be better to have two minutes than 25 seconds’

Reigning champion in yellow jersey but Tadej Pogačar strikes back

Jonas Vingegaard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonas Vingegaard cut a defiant figure at the top of Cauterets-Cambasque on Thursday when he pulled on the yellow jersey of the Tour de France for the first time in 2023. 

Despite his performance on the road to Laruns on stage five, the Jumbo-Visma man now holds the jersey by just 25 seconds from a rampaging Tadej Pogačar who took the stage honours at Cauterets-Cambasque.

After being steam-rollered by Jumbo-Visma and Vingegaard on the Col de La Marie-Blanque on Wednesday, the two-time Tour champion struck back on Thursday’s summit finish.

Vingegaard explained that while he was happy to pull on the maillot jaune once more, both he and his Jumbo teammates perhaps went too deep on the penultimate climb of the day - the Col du Tourmalet - which they then paid for when the final climb arrived. 

“It would be better to have two minutes than 25 seconds, but I’m just super happy to be in the leader’s jersey,” Vingegaard said. “Obviously, we wanted to attack on the Tourmalet. It did cost quite some energy, so in a way he [Pogačar] was just stronger today, so he really deserved to win.”

“I’m really happy to be back in yellow,” he added. “It's always nice to be the wearer of it. I hoped to at least stay with Tadej, but he was really strong on the last climb, so he deserved to win. I would also have liked to win today of course.”

Jumbo-Visma attempted to isolate Pogačar on the Col du Tourmalet, which they succeeded in, but Vingegaard could not drop the Slovenian, who then attacked and took time on the final climb.

Vingegaard dug in, limiting his losses, and later told the media that after their many battles against one another, Pogačar’s move was certainly not unexpected. 

“Not at all,” he said. “I think we’ve seen this before [from him]. I felt good today, I wanted to give it a shot, and he was obviously very strong today. I guess it will be a very exciting Tour de France this year.”

Jonas Vingegaard on the Tourmalet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Vingegaard’s sentiments were backed up by his key Jumbo domestique, Sepp Kuss, who told the media that despite the Slovenian beginning to look beaten in Laruns, Jumbo were well aware that he would look to strike back.

“We can be happy with how we try to take on the race. But yeah, Pogačar is the best cyclist in the world,” Kuss said. “So we have to be ready for the days that he bounces back and the kind of rider that he is."

Jumbo had ensured Wout van Aert made the day’s breakaway ready for their planned move on the Tourmalet and ready to act as a satellite rider once Vingegaard attacked. Kuss explained that after the team’s dominance on the previous stage, Jumbo wanted to strike again to further place Pogačar into difficulty.

“We wanted to try,” he explained. “Yesterday, we did take some time on him. So we wanted to try again today while there was still the hard day from yesterday in the legs. “Today's course, especially the earlier climbs, were really good for Jonas.”

They may have yellow, but it will be a case of back to the drawing board for Jumbo-Visma tonight, with Pogačar resurgent. Time for a reset and rethink as the French Grand Tour rolls on to Bordeaux.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.