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TOUR’22: Breaking Down Where/How Jonas Vingegaard Won the Race! – PezCycling News

Final Tour Breakdown: Now that the dust has settled on the 2022 Tour de France, Spencer Martin has had time to look at the ‘big picture’ and give us his facts & figures on how the Tour was won… and lost.

– This article is an excerpt from the Beyond the Peloton newsletter. Sign up here for full access. –


Jonas Vingegaard – impressive

After having a few days to ponder Jonas Vingegaard’s highly clinical and impressive dismantling of his competition to take his first overall Tour de France victory, I wanted to go back through the defining stages to break down where exactly he won the three-week race over the two-time winner, and heavy pre-race favorite, Tadej Pogačar.

At first glance, Vingegaard won due to the strength of his Jumbo-Visma team and the weakness of Pogačar’s UAE team, along with a single bad moment from Pogačar on the final climb of stage 11 that many have suggested was due to a lack of fueling or illness. However, under closer inspection, Vingegaard matched or outrode Pogačar every time the race went uphill, finished even with him in the time trials, and only lost small chunks of time over the cobblestones (due to a mechanical) and via time bonuses. This means that there was no situation where Pogačar was able to actually pry open true time gaps on Vingegaard in a one-on-one racing situation. This tells us that Vingegaard is a worthy champion of the events and simply outrode Pogačar over three weeks and also hints that Pogačar returning to win the race in the future could be more difficult than some slight strategy adjustments like most pundits are suggesting.

To help us digest the end result, and attempt to understand what exactly happened and where mistakes/winning moves were made, I’ve isolated every stage where the top three won/lost time relative to each other and how much time they won/lost.


Time gain on stage for Pogačar

Where Time Was Won/Lost

Stage 1 Time Trial
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +8
Geraint Thomas +18

Stage 5 Cobblestones
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +13
Geraint Thomas +13

Stage 6 Uphill Sprint
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +10
Geraint Thomas +15


Stage 7 summit – time for Pogačar

Stage 7 Summit Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +4
Geraint Thomas +24

Stage 8 Uphill Sprint
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +4
Geraint Thomas +4

Stage 9 Uphill Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Geraint Thomas +3

Stage 11 Summit Finish
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Geraint Thomas +1’48
Tadej Pogačar +3’01

Stage 14 Uphill Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Geraint Thomas +17

Stage 17 Summit Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard +4
Geraint Thomas +2’17

Stage 18 Summit Finish
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar +1’08
Geraint Thomas +3’04

Stage 20 Time Trial
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar +8
Geraint Thomas +13


Time gain for Vingegaard on stage 20

Course Type Where Time Was Won/Lost:

Uphill/Summit Finish:
Vingegaard +0
Pogačar +3’55
Thomas +7’18

Time Trial:
Pogačar +0
Vingegaard +0
Thomas +23

Time Bonuses:
Pogačar +0
Vingegaard +8
Geraint Thomas +40

Cobblestones:
Pogačar +0
Vingegaard +13
Thomas +13


Pogačar gained time on the cobbles

Vingegaard vs Pogacar Course Type:
Major Mountain Stages (3): 235-seconds Vingegaard
Cobbled Stages (1): 13-seconds Pogačar
Time Bonuses (4): 8-seconds Pogačar
Time Trials (2): 0-seconds taken
Hilly Stages (4): 0-seconds gained

The above data backs up what I mentioned above, which is that Vingegaard outrode Pogacar on the climbs, matched him in the time trials, and only leaked time via time bonuses and cobblestones. It also shows us that Thomas, despite putting in one of the best rides of his career, lost time on every course type, which tells us that he was thoroughly outmatched and had no choice but to race for the final podium spot.


Pogačar looked comfortable at the end of the first week

When the Podium Won/Lost Time Relative to Vingegaard:

Week 1 (Stages 1-9)
Pogačar -39
Vingegaard +0
Thomas +38

Week 2 (Stages 10-15)
Vingegaard +0
Thomas +2’05
Pogačar +3’01

Week 3 (Stages 16-21)
Vingegaard +0
Pogačar +1’12
Thomas +5’30

This breakdown shows us that Vingegaard, after losing time in the first week, dominated both Pogačar and Thomas over the rest of the race. And just like last year, he was the fastest through the course in the third week and starts to show a trend where he gets stronger (or gets less weak) than his competition, which is a massive advantage for a grand tour GC contender.


Superior climbing from Vingegaard

Takeaways
Jonas Vingegaard won this Tour with a mix of extreme patience and superior climbing ability

  • Despite this Tour being won with a sizable time margin, Vingegaard only unleashed a single true attack (5km remaining on stage 11) and only dropped Pogačar twice (stage 11 & stage 18). This stands in stark contrast to the uber-aggressive style displayed by Pogacar and shows that outside of being an extremely strong rider, Vingegaard’s superpower is his patience and ability to conserve energy over a three-week race.
  • Also, much has been made about the strength of Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma team, but when we look at the data, it tells us that he actually won the race when the course tilted upwards, where team strength counts for less.
  • Vingegaard/Pogacar Time Difference per Stage Type
    Major Mountain Stages: 78.3-seconds per stage (Vingegaard)
    Time Bonuses: 2-seconds per stage (Pogačar)
    Time Trials: 0-seconds per stage
    Hilly Stages: 0-seconds per stage
  • Of course, there are intangible benefits to having a strong team, like keeping Vingegaard out of trouble through the opening stages in Denmark (where not crashing out was technically as important to winning the race as his performances in the mountains), but Vingegaard was so strong in both the time trials and on the climbs, both almost exclusively individual efforts, that it seems borderline insulting to suggest he only won the race due to his team.


Jumbo full on, on stage 11

The Jumbo-Visma full-court press on Stage 11 was a key building block to Vingegaard’s winning ride

  • However, while climbing is mainly an individual pursuit (the steeper gradients lower speeds which decrease the benefits of drafting) I would be remiss to not mention that Jonas Vingegaard took 85% of his (effective) winning margin over Pogačar during his lone attack on the final climb of stage 11 after Pogačar had been forced to respond to repeated attacks from Vingegaard’s teammate Primoz Roglič.
  • This is a prime example of how Jumbo’s strong squad helped Vingegaard, but also highlighted some of Pogačar’s inexperience. For example, he spent a significant amount of energy closing down Roglič’s attacks (while Vingegaard was able to sit in his draft) while Roglič was minutes down in the GC and not a realistic GC threat. A more seasoned rider would likely have called Jumbo’s bluff and focused specifically on Vingegaard in this situation.
  • And an even bigger mistake was his decision to take the Jumbo bait by getting to the front and setting a hard pace on the Galibier climb to deter more Roglič attacks (and riding in a position that gave Vingegaard to use Pogačar as shelter from the substantial crosswinds). This was a mistake since it 1) caused him to burn up energy he could have used on the final climb, 2) kept his own chasing teammates off the back and 3) didn’t give him a chance to fuel properly, which likely contributed to running out of fuel on the final climb.


Too much too soon for Pogačar?

Pogačar was far too aggressive in the opening week & took the Yellow Jersey far too early

  • When we look at the trend of the gaps between the eventual top three, it is clear that Pogačar came out extremely hot over the first nine stages only to crash on stage 11 and then fade further over the next week.

  • One has to imagine that a major reason for this fading was his excessively aggressive style over the first nine stages when he was needlessly chasing wins or sprinting for minor placings at the end of every stage. While we can’t know for certain if this caused his performance to decline later in the race, we do know that it is extremely rare for riders to win the Tour after chasing stage wins early in the race.
  • Another questionable decision was his UAE team chasing back breakaways to both get and hold onto the Yellow Jersey in the first week. Since holding the race lead is extremely taxing on the leader’s teammates and UAE had a difficult time supporting Pogacar in key parts of the race, we can come to the conclusion that it would likely have been wiser to ‘gift’ the jersey away shortly after getting it on stage 6.


Stage 5 was not a good day for Jumbo, but the survived – Eventually Roglič didn’t

Jumbo’s stage 5 ‘scramble’, and ensuing chase, saved Vingegaard’s race

  • The Jumbo team has been much-mocked for its highly chaotic reaction to Jonas Vingegaard’s mechanical issue on the cobbled stage 5, but in retrospect, their ability to get him a new bike, and get him back into the main GC group via a strong chase (led by Van Aert), was a major contribution to his overall victory.
  • He might have been able to limit his losses to 1-2 minutes (instead of 13-seconds) with a lesser team, which technically would still have been close enough for him to win the overall, but the fact that he was so close to Pogačar going into stage 11 likely contributed to Pogačar’s overreaction and eventual collapse.


Stage 11 – Pogačar’s undoing

Post-Tour Questions

How could Pogačar have won this race?

  • Racing far more conservatively through the first week and realizing that after stage 7 Vingegaard was his only true GC rival, and in turn, focusing solely on him, would have greatly increased his chances of victory.
  • This would have allowed him to simply allow Roglič’s doomed attacks going up the road heading into the Galibier and heading into the Granon climb with much fresher legs.
  • If he could have simply finished behind, but equal on time with, Vingegaard on Stages 11 & 18, he could have won this race through time bonuses via a single second (which also would have set up the most thrilling final time trial in the history of the race).


Team change?

Can Pogačar recapture the Tour title while at UAE?

  • It is certainly possible that Pogačar could return in 2023 with a renewed focus and beat Vingegaard, who will have to take on more intense pre-race pressure.
  • However, after watching this Tour, we shouldn’t be so sure this will be as simple as Pogacar showing up and displaying more patience. After all, he failed to distance Vingegaard a single time on any uphill piece of road, was dropped twice, and finished even with Vingegaard after 53kms of time trailing.
  • Not only will he have to optimize his pre-Tour training schedule to get even with Vingegaard on the climbs, but he will also have to execute the entire Tour with extreme precision due to the extremely small margin of error that comes along with racing such a worthy opponent.
  • The fact that there didn’t seem to be any true leadership from inside the UAE team car (along with Pogacar arguing with the car, especially about the lack of nutrition/water being given to him) means that he may have to change teams or bring in a more controlling team manager to take care of the big picture strategy if he wants to win his third overall title.


Could Van Aert be in Yellow in Paris one day?

Could Wout van Aert be an overall contender?

  • Something that has confused novices and experts alike is how the sport’s best rider is able to seemingly dominate every stage of the Tour de France but has no interest in attempting to win the overall title.
  • At the moment, Van Aert’s relatively massive frame (1.90 meters tall @ 77kgs) has appeared to cause consistency issues on high alpine climbs that have kept him from winning one-week stage races like the Dauphine and Tirreno–Adriatico. It stands to reason that if he can’t handle alpine climbs over the course of a week at the Dauphine, he won’t be able to handle a three week GC grind at the Tour.
  • However, nothing can be ruled out in the future for such a talented rider, and it is difficult to imagine he wouldn’t be at least a contender if he wished to go on a Geraint Thomas/Bradley Wiggins slim-down program and chase the overall title. After all, he is a far more talented rider than either of those former Tour winners and has already dominated extremely difficult mountain stages.
  • The major question here is likely less ‘can he’ and more ‘would he want to?’ After all, losing significant amounts of weight appeared to be both physically and emotionally taxing on riders like Tom Dumoulin and Wiggins as well as robbing them of the super high-end power they were capable of before the weight loss.
  • Also, Van Aert, one of the most illogical, exciting, and aggressive riders we’ve ever seen would have to eschew this style in favor of a far more subdued and patience-based (i.e. Vingegaard) style of riding. It isn’t clear if he is capable of, or wishes to, riding in this manner.


Will the Jumbo-Visma band stay together?

Can Jumbo keep the band together?

  • The Dutch superteam dominated the Tour with their collective strength, but one has to wonder how long they can keep riders like Primoz Roglič and Wout van Aert as in-house super domestiques without being able to offer leadership and/or stage-win chasing opportunities.
  • As it becomes more and more clear that Jonas Vingegaard will be one of the sport’s main GC stars going forward, the team will have to put more and more resources towards his ambitions to keep him happy, which will almost certainly see Roglič look to leave for more opportunities elsewhere.


Jonas Vingegaard – A worthy Tour winner

# Spencer Martin is the author of the cycling-analysis newsletter Beyond the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of each race and answers big picture questions surrounding team and rider performance. Sign up now to get full access to all the available content and race breakdowns. #

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