Tour de France: Madness in the Alps: Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar are unstoppable – except for motorcycles

Fighting for every inch and every bonus second, bringing joy to fans in France and on screen: Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar.

Tour de France: Madness in the Alps: Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar are unstoppable – except for motorcycles

Fighting for every inch and every bonus second, bringing joy to fans in France and on screen: Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar. Last year's winner Vingegaard and two-time winner Pogacar (2020 and 2021) were already considered the big favorites before the start of this year's Tour de France, but the gripping battle that both drivers put up with each other captivates the fans. It's a battle for every meter and a duel that will fascinate the cycling world for years to come. Only ten seconds separate the 26-year-old Dane from his two-year-old opponent from Slovenia. In the stage on Saturday, Vingegaard was the big winner thanks to the time bonus on the last climb and extended his lead by one second.

A triumph on the Col de Joux Plane that was not foreseeable 500 meters from the summit. When Pogacar attacked, Vingegaard struggled to hold the Slovenian's rear wheel. He didn't have to either, because after a few meters the attack was already over. Two escort motorcycles in front blocked the road, Pogacar had to break off his attack and left important grains in the hill sprint that followed shortly afterwards, which Vingegaard won. "I put everything in, then the bikes didn't move. I wasted a cartridge there". Pogacar was annoyed at the finish.

Grischa Niermann, sporting director at Vingegaard's Team Jumbo-Visma, called on the tour organization to act with foresight in the future. "It's super great that there are so many spectators along the route, but the last two days it was very hairy because it got so narrow and narrow that even the support vehicles couldn't get through. Then the cars and motorcycles get in the way , and that's really dangerous for the racers," said Niermann in the "Sportschau". In the long term, the organization would have to consider setting up barriers over longer distances. "You have to make sure that the racers still have a bit of track free to fight their battle." The German time trial champion Nils Politt from the Bora-hansgrohe team agreed, complaining that the tour was getting closer and closer. "It's extremely partial," said Politt. “Somehow you should limit that”, the drivers should have free travel.

How the duel between Pogacar and Vingegaard will end, none of the professionals can definitively predict. Only on the fifth stage did Pogacar show a phase of weakness so far, losing a minute to Vingegaard, who in turn lost a few seconds to Pogacar again and again. Among other things, an individual time trial and three stages in the high mountains are still pending – the stage to St. Gervais Mont-Blanc, a demanding final climb, awaits the 158 remaining riders in the field on Sunday as well.

The two motorcycles that influenced the mountain sprint on Saturday will not be there: the two motorcyclists, the cameraman and the photographer are not allowed to take part in the 15th stage on Sunday to Saint-Gervais. In addition, both crews were fined 500 Swiss francs (around 515 euros). According to the regulations, motorcyclists in particular are required to always keep a sufficient distance from the drivers.

If Pogacar and Vingegaard continue to duel without weakening phases, it could be the most exciting Tour de France in history. In 1989, Greg LeMond won by eight seconds over Laurent Fignon, but with a difference to the current Tour de France. LeMond didn't don the overall leader's yellow jersey until the final stage – he took almost a minute off Fignon in the individual time trial that ended on the Champs Élysées. During the entire tour, the two riders were never separated by more than a minute. It was also extremely close in 2006 when Oscar Pereiro won (32 seconds ahead) and in 2007 when Alberto Contador triumphed (23 seconds) - but both tours were overshadowed by mass doping scandals, and in 2006 ARD and ZDF even dropped out as a result of the scandals the transmission. The suspicion continues to drive with the tour - even if the last doping case was eight years ago.

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