'Without bad luck, we will win the Tour de France': Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma prepare for victory

A dominant performance on Wednesday's stage 17 left Jonas Vingegaard seven minutes in front of his nearest rival

Jonas Vingegaard on stage 17 of the 2023 Tour de France
(Image credit: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer. 

Sadly, not the actual words of the Greek philosopher Plutarch, but the rehashing of a few passages written by him in the first century CE, popularised by Hans Gruber in the Christmas film Die Hard.

Jumbo-Visma and Jonas Vingegaard have the 2023 Tour de France wrapped up, more or less, thanks to a stage 17 which saw the Dane put five and a half minutes into Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). It's a result which all but confirms the 26-year-old's second yellow jersey.

"Without bad luck, we will win the Tour," the team's directeur sportif Frans Maassen said post-stage.

They have conquered almost all worlds. So many worlds that they are contemplating going for further classifications, ones not in the Dutch team's locker yet.

"The teams classification is now where we want to go," Jumbo DS Arthur van Dongen said on Wednesday. "We never won before, and now it's also a side goal."

If Tuesday's stage 16 time trial performance from Vingegaard appeared to put the Tour de France just beyond Pogačar's reach, then stage 17's demolition put it on another planet.

A lead of 1-48 on Wednesday morning grew to 7-35 by the evening, with just one more day in the mountains to come. With 15km to go of the stage, on the fearsome Col de la Loze, Pogačar was dropped, unable to cope with the high pace set by Jumbo on the front. As the Slovenian was gapped, Vingegaard simply rode away, putting not just seconds, but minutes into his big rival.

"I'm very, very happy and proud of my performance today," Vingegaard said in his press conference, without looking or sounding happy. "The performance by the whole team today. I'm really, really happy that I took five and a half minutes. That's the thoughts I had [when crossing the line]."

The magnitude of Pogačar's defeat seemed to surprise Jumbo, with the team also saying they did not expect to gain so much time in the preceding time trial. Vingegaard is going above and beyond expectations.

"It was a perfect day for the team," Van Dongen said. "We were surprised. Yesterday, there was also a big difference between Jonas and Pogačar, but still also, there was a big difference between Pogačar and the rest. We were surprised about it today.

"I think we can be comfortable now. If we stay out of trouble, with more than seven minutes in the last four days, we can be comfortable, no doubts about that. 

"The mood in the car was good, when Pogačar was dropped. We let all the guys pull and we waited in front with Wilco [Kelderman] and Tiesj [Benoot], and then we created the difference. The mood is still pretty good."

Wednesday's stage had been planned for months, according to Vingegaard, with nothing left to chance. In the end, the plan worked perfectly.

"It's the performance team who make the plan from what my qualities are," he said. "I think they did it in December. They do it early, and then they work on it all the time. Even even with yesterday's results, we didn't change the plan. We we stuck to the plan, because we think that it was the best plan."

"This is the result of two weeks' hard work," Maassen said. "We wanted to speed up on the climbs and make it as hard as possible for Pogačar because he's so explosive.

"Jonas is in the shape of his life, and he's really made for this. He can do three or four climbs at a high pace. It was too much for Pogačar. "

"We hoped for this earlier in the Tour, but sometimes Pogačar gave us a knock down a bit, and was a really strong opponent. Today he ran out of sugar, I think, and it was over."

Pogačar may have run out of sugar, but it was Vingegaard and Jumbo who are in the process of conquering everything. It might almost be time to survey the breadth of their domain, and weep.

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