Jonas Vingegaard kept a level head at the end of the first stage of the Tour de France on a sweltering day in the Basque Country.
In his press conference earlier this week, Vingegaard’s main rival for the defence of his Tour title - two time winner Tadej Pogačar - had vowed to attack on the hilly circuit around Bilbao and the Slovenian was certainly true to his word.
The Slovenian, with the help of his teammates, piled the pressure onto Jumbo-Visma and Vingegaard. Eventually Pogačar was left to settle for third and four bonus seconds, as his UAE colleague Adam Yates took the race's first yellow jersey and the stage win.
Despite UAE Emirates throwing the gauntlet down on Saturday afternoon, Vingegaard told the media post-stage that he was very much unfazed by UAE’s fiery opening to the Tour. The reigning champion insisted that there was no need for panic after the Slovenian’s showing.
“No, I guess he took four seconds but as I said also last year, the Tour de France will probably not be decided on four seconds,” Vingegaard said.
Jumbo had been aiming for the stage win with Vingegaard’s teammate Wout van Aert, but despite the victory not materialising, the reigning champion believed his team could take heart from their opening day performance.
Earlier in the day Movistar’s Enric Mas - a rider many expected to put in a strong GC showing this July - came down in a heavy crash along with Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost). Mas was forced to abandon while Carapaz remounted his bike, gingerly continuing in the race.
Vingegaard explained that after getting wind of the crash, simply getting to the end of the stage in Bilbao without incident was also enough of a reason for Jumbo to be satisfied with their showing.
“I think I can be very happy with my team,” he explained. “They kept me safe all day so I guess I have to give them a big thanks for that.
“They were all super super strong and yeah, we are, of course, happy to be safe and not crash because I heard there was a big crash. Of course we wanted to win today but you cannot win every day.”
Meanwhile, despite missing out on a much wanted stage win and the race’s first mailllot jaune, Vingegaard’s teammate Wout van Aert explained that after throwing everything at it, the Dutch squad could move on with no regrets.
The Belgian said: “Well yeah, I was here to win the stage to try and win it [the yellow jersey] but no regrets because I gave everything, my team gave me everything, and the Yates brothers were just stronger than us today.”
Another challenging day in the Basque Country awaits the riders on stage two. The riders face another day packed with climbing - including the infamous Jaizkibel of the Clásica San Sebastián - across the 208 kilometre route from Vitoria Gasteiz to the coastal town.
As the riders recover tonight in camp Jumbo-Visma, it will very much be a sense of keep calm and carry on, it’s a long way to Paris.
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