Tour de France: Jonas Vingegaard Extends Lead After Time Trial Victory

Posted on: July 18, 2023, 12:31h. 

Last updated on: July 18, 2023, 03:53h.

Defending Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard from Jumbo-Visma rode the best individual time trial of his life to win Stage 16 of the 2023 tour. Vingegaard extended his overall lead over Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) to 1:48 with five stages remaining.

Jonas Vingegaard Time Trial
Jonas Vingegaard from Jumbo-Visma, seen here approaching the finish line at Combloux, posted the fastest time in an individual time trial to win Stage 16 of the Tour de France. (Image: Reuters)

Through the first 15 stages, Vingegaard and Pogacar were just 10 seconds apart in the general classification (GC) standings after a difficult weekend in the French Alps.

The prevailing sentiment heading into the time trial at Stage 16 was that the heads-up winner between the two rivals will most likely win this year’s Tour de France.

Vingegaard locked up his first stage win of this year’s tour and padded his overall lead by an additional 98 seconds. Pogacar is currently in second place in the GC standings and 1:48 behind Vingegaard.

There’s a fierce battle for third place on the final podium in Paris. Adam Yates, Pogacar’s teammate at UAE Team Emirates, moved into third place in the GC standings after a strong ride in Stage 16. Yates trails Vingegaard by 8:52, but he holds a five-second lead over fourth-place Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers).

Stage 16 ITT: Passy to Combloux

Only one individual time trial was scheduled in the 2023 Tour de France. The short but difficult ride in Stage 16 from Passy to Combloux was 22.4 kilometers long, but the time trial concluded with a punishing ascent of Cote de Domancy. The Category 2 climb was 2.5 km long with an average gradient of 9.4%.

If Vingegaard holds on to win the 2023 Tour de France, he’ll look back at the showdown on the Cote de Domancy as an inflection point.

Pogacar opted to swap out bikes before the ascent of the Cote de Domancy. UAE Team Emirates gambled that the swap, which would take 10 seconds to complete, would benefit Pogacar. He ditched his time trial bike for a climbing bike, but the swap didn’t matter.

Vingegaard, meanwhile, didn’t swap out bikes. He remained in the saddle on his time trial bike and dominated the ascent of Cote de Domancy.

“I was feeling great today,” said Vingegaard. “It’s the best time trial I have ever done. Today I even surprised myself with the time trial. I didn’t expect to do so well.”

Wout Van Aert from Jumbo-Visma posted a sensational run at 35:27 and seized first place in the stage standings before Pogacar and Vingegaard began their runs as the final two riders. Despite a strong performance, Van Aert finished third overall in Stage 16 and was 2:55 slower than his teammate.

Pogacar was the betting favorite to win the Stage 16 time trial at +100 odds. Vingegaard was a close second at +125 odds, followed by Van Aert.

Stage 17 and Stage 20 Loom

Two more flat stages are on the schedule, which will benefit sprinters. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin–Deceuninck) is the hottest sprinter on Le Tour this year, having already won four sprint stages. The Belgian speed demon is the favorite to cross the finish line first in Stage 19 in Poligny and again in Stage 21 in Paris, which he won last year.

Five more stages remain, and two of them are mountain stages. Pogacar has just two more chances to cut into Vingegaard’s lead in Stage 17 and Stage 20.

On Wednesday, the peloton faces the most difficult stage of this year’s schedule. The 166-kilometer ride in Stage 17 begins in Saint-Gervais-les-Bains and ends at Courchevel. There’s a trio of categorized climbs during the first half of the stage, with one hellacious uncategorized climb (HC) near the finish line. Pogacar has no choice but to make a move on the Col de la Loze during a 28-kilometer ascent.

The penultimate stage takes place on Saturday with Stage 20. The 135-kilometer route begins in Belfort and ends in Le Markstein. The final mountain stage features six climbs, including Col de la Schlucht.

Before Stage 1, oddsmakers at DraftKings installed Vingegaard as a slight favorite at +110 odds to defend his title. Pogacar was +115 odds to win his third yellow jersey in the last four years.

Before Stage 16 began, Vingegaard was -120 odds to win the Tour de France, and Pogacar was even money at +100 odds. It was still too close to call heading into the time trial.

After Vingegaard won Stage 16, his futures vastly improved to -1000 odds, while Pogacar slipped to +800 odds.