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TOUR’23 Final Wrap: How Jonas Vingegaard Won the Tour

Tour Takeaways

Tour’23 Final Breakdown: Spencer Martin breaks down exactly where/how Jonas Vingegaard won the 2023 Tour de France and what it can teach us about future clashes between the two superstar GC contenders.

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

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The 2023 Tour de France podium

While it is sad the race is over, we have a potentially even better race, La Vuelta a España, coming up in late August, where we will see Jonas Vingegaard face off against superstars like Primož Roglič, Remco Evenepoel, and up-and-comer Juan Ayuso.

After having a few days to ponder Jonas Vingegaard’s dominant ride to take his second career Tour de France victory, and confirm his status as the sport’s premier grand tour contender, I wanted to break down how and where he won the three-week race over his rival and runner-up Tadej Pogačar to discover what can be learned for future clashes between these two riders.

At first glance, Vingegaard won after blitzing the Alp’s biggest climbs and Tour’s single time trial and being simply too powerful for even the uber-talented Pogačar to parry. Vingegaard and his Jumbo team did a great job of putting pressure on Pogačar through the early portion of the race by putting massive kilojoules into the young Slovenian’s legs by setting a hard pace at the front of the peloton at nearly every turn, and trusting Vingegaard’s proven ability to take time on Pogačar in the third week of grand tours after a hard two weeks of racing.

However, when we look closer, Vingegaard’s massive winning gap was mainly due to Pogačar cratering on the race’s two most important stages (16 & 17), which was almost certainly caused by his injury-impaired build-up and/or an illness. Of course, Jumbo would argue that they took this suboptimal build-up into account when planning their hard-pace strategy, but unless they plan on crashing Pogačar out of next year’s Spring Classics, this scenario isn’t exactly replicable. This means that while Vingegaard is currently without a doubt the best Tour de France rider in the world, that another steamroll performance in the 2024 Tour, or even at the upcoming Vuelta, certainly isn’t a foregone conclusion.

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Will Vingegaard be celebrating in Spain

Final GC Top Ten:
1) Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo) +0
2) Tadej Pogačar (UAE) +7’29
3) Adam Yates (UAE) +10’56
4) Simon Yates (Jayco) +12’23
5) Carlos Rodríguez (Ineos) +13’17
6) Pello Bilbao (Bahrain) +13’27
7) Jai Hindley (Bora) +14’44
8) Felix Gall (AG2R) +16’09
9) David Gaudu (FDJ) +23’08
10) Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +26’30

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(+) or lost(-).

Where Time Was Won/Lost

Stage 1 Hilly
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -4

Stage 2 Hilly
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -7

Stage 5 Mountains
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar -1’04

Stage 6 Summit Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -28

Stage 9 Summit Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -8

Stage 13 Summit Finish
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -8

Stage 14 Mountains
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar -1

Stage 16 Time Trial
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar -1’38

Stage 17 Mountains
Jonas Vingegaard +0
Tadej Pogačar -5’47

Stage 20 Mountains
Tadej Pogačar +0
Jonas Vingegaard -6

When the Podium Won/Lost Time Relative to Vingegaard:

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Week 1 (Stages 1-9)
Pogačar -17
Yates -4’39

Week 2 (Stages 10-15)
Pogačar +7
Yates -1’01

Week 3 (Stages 16-21)
Yates -5’16
Pogačar -7’19

The above graphs and figures show us precisely what we would expect; that Vingegaard took time on Pogačar with his stage 5 attack, before Pogačar slowly nailed back his deficit over the course of the next 11 stages, before Vingegaard delivered his knockout blow in the stage 16 TT and stage 17 climb of Col de la Loze.

The fact that the second week, the only section of the race where Pogačar took time on Vingegaard, was where third-place finisher Adam Yates was able to limit his losses to roughly a minute, shows us that the parcours through this section were significantly less challenging and that Vingegaard and Jumbo were clearly in a holding pattern and not worried about Pogačar slowly taking back time.

Interestingly, Pogačar took time on Vingegaard on 6 out of the 10 stages where there was a time gap created between the two riders.

But, as is becoming a trend in the battle between the two riders, Pogačar will consistently take time on Vingegaard, but lose much larger chunks of time than Vingegaard on the small number of days where he is gapped.

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Course Type Where Time Was Won/Lost Relative to Vingegaard

Individual Time Trials:
Pogačar -1’38 (lost)

  • Uphill Time Trial Kilometers (6.4km)
    Pogačar -1’07 (lost)

Mountain Stages:
Pogačar -6’13 (lost)

  • Summit Finishes:
    Pogačar +36-seconds (won)

Time Bonuses:
Pogačar +22 (won)

Vingegaard/Pogačar Time Difference Per Stage Type
Individual Time Trial
(1): 98-seconds per stage (Vingegaard)

  • Uphill time trial kilometers (6.3km): 10.4-seconds per kilometer (Vingegaard)

Mountain Stages (7): 53-seconds per stage (Vingegaard)

  • Summit Finish (3): 12-seconds per stage (Pogačar)

Time Bonus (7): 3.14-seconds per stage (Pogačar)

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What is interesting when we look at the course type where Vingegaard and Pogačar won/lost time against one another is that Pogačar took time on Vingegaard through the race’s three key summit finishes (stage 6, 9, & 13), as well as consistently through the race’s time bonuses, his poor time trial relative to Vingegaard, as well as his collapse on the race’s hardest climb, Col de la Loze, stage 17, were simply too much to overcome.

The Loze collapse likely can’t predict anything for the future other than that Pogačar should avoid training for next year’s Tour on his home trainer while recovering from a broken wrist, or potentially getting sick during a grand tour.

However, the lost time in the TT and the emerging trend of Pogačar losing time on Vingegaard in the third week of grand tours, does tell us that Pogačar and his team need to re-tool his racing schedule, training, and Tour strategy if he wants to beat Vingegaard.

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Five Key Takeaways

1) Jonas Vingegaard is now, without a doubt, the sport’s best grand tour racer

After winning his second consecutive Tour de France, there is now no doubt that 26-year-old Dane is the world’s premier grand tour rider.

If beating the sport’s all-around best rider, Pogačar, wasn’t enough, his margin of victory over second place was the largest since Vincenzo Nibali trounced a Chris Froome-less field in 2014, highlights just how dominant his two-year run has been.

Over the last three Tours de France, Vingegaard has taken time on Tadej Pogačar in the third week of the race (2021: 12 seconds, 2022: 21 seconds, 2023: 7’19). This data point shows that Vingegaard has an undeniable advantage over Pogačar as the race wears on, the climbs get longer, and the course gets more challenging.

Another impressive component of this victory is just how well Vingegaard managed his efforts through the race, like managing his small losses to Pogačar during the run of uphill finishes and slowly pegging him back on the Col de Joux Plane (stage 14), before blowing open the gap on the two stages (16 & 17) he had circled as opportunities to take his race-winning chunks of time.

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2) Jumbo-Visma had a clearly-defined pre-Tour plan and won after religiously sticking to it

For the second straight grand tour, we’ve seen the Jumbo outfit come in with a pre-defined strategy and triumph after executing it from start to finish.

At the recent Giro d’Italia, they sat back through the race’s first 19 stages, refraining from having the team pull back breakaways to set up Primož Roglič sprinting for stage wins and stacking up time bonuses. Instead, they passed on these opportunties to save every ounce of energy to deploy at the best opportunity to take time (stage 20 TT).

At this Tour, Jumbo employed a near-opposite plan. They had their powerful team set a blistering pace on the front and used Wout van Aert to get into and drive breakaways, raising the overall pace of the race to add fatigue to Pogačar’s legs. This ‘operation fatigue’ laid the groundwork for their massive gains in the stage 16 TT and stage 17 climb of Loze.

The most impressive element of both of these strategies is that they weren’t tempted to shift tactics when the races seemed like they were in jeopardy (i.e., Roglič failing to take time back on Geraint Thomas at the Giro and Pogačar slowly chipping away at Vingegaard’s lead at this Tour).

It will be interesting to see what strategy they deploy at the upcoming Vuelta, where they will attempt to win a historic third grand tour in a single season.

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3) A fully fit and healthy Pogačar can match Vingegaard in the time trials and on long alpine climbs

It would be easy to look at the 2023 Tour and think that Jonas Vingegaard, due to his dominant performance in the stage 16 time trial, is simply too good for Tadej Pogačar to ever defeat again in a three-week grand tour.

And, when people saw the estimated power and VAM for Vingegaard on the steepest 2.5km-long portion of the climb during the stage 16 TT, this assumption seemed to be true.

But, if we pull this effort out for the entire 6.4km-long climb, and examine the best time trial performances from each rider throughout the past few Tours, we can see that while Vingegaard was incredibly strong in the time trial, his performance wasn’t outside of what Pogačar was capable of at his best, and that the sudden increase in gap due was to a backslide from Pogačar, not an increase in speed/form from Vingegaard.

Jonas Vingegaard Stage 16 2023 TdF Final Climb:
Time: 13’31
VAM: 1803 m/h
Est. Pwr: 7.1w/kg
Grade: 6.8%
Top Elevation: 3,400ft

Steepest 2.5km Portion (via CyclingWatts on twitter)
Time: 6’43
VAM: 2144 m/h
Est. Pwr: 7.6w/kg
Grade: 9.6%

Tadej Pogačar Stage 20 2020 TdF Final Climb:
Time: 16’10
VAM: 1863 m/h
Est pwr: 6.9w/kg
Grade: 8.5%
Top Elevation: 3,766ft

Note that Pogačar’s 2020 TT effort was twice as long as Vingegaard’s in 2023 (55 minutes vs 32 minutes), so Pogačar was holding roughly 6w/kg for the 40 minutes prior to his climb, while Vingegaard was only holding a high power for the 20 minutes prior to his (and had descents to rest on vs Pogačar’s steady effort in 2020).

When we contrast Pogačar’s efforts from earlier in the race to Vingegaard’s TT performance on stage 16, it’s clear he was capable of matching Vingegaard at his best, even when Vingegaard attacks on long alpine climbs. However, due to illness and/or fatigue from his poor build-up, his level dropped for the time trial and high-altitude climb of Col de la Loze.

Pogacar Attack Puy du Dome Stage 9
Final 13’20
VAM: 1965 m/h
Est Pwr: 7.1w/kg
Avg Grade: 11.2%
Top Elevation: 4,806ft

Pogačar/Vingegaard Last 15 minutes of Col du Tourmalet on Stage 6
Time: 15’00
VAM: 1,923 m/h
Est Pwr: 7.06w/kg
Avg Grade: 9.3%
Top Elevation: 6,900ft

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4) Time trials are the key to winning modern grand tours

With the top two contenders at this Tour, and most grand tours on the calendar, so evenly matched on even the hardest climbs, it quickly becomes clear just how important the time trials, even if they are few in kilometers, have become to winning modern grand tours.

For the second straight grand tour, a small number of uphill time trial kilometers have produced significant time gaps between the top two contenders.

At his best, Pogačar may be capable of matching Vingegaard on climbs, but, at this point, it is clear it will be difficult for him to take significant time by dropping Vingegaard in the mountains.

So, if he wants to win future grand tours by taking time on Vingegaard in bonus seconds and a handful of sprint-induced small time gaps, he will have to make sure he can beat, or at least match, Vingegaard against the clock in the third-week.

Remember this trend when future grand tour routes are released, and the narrative forms around whether it will be a route that favors climbers or time trialists.

In modern racing, the top GC contenders are equally dominant at both, and time trials play just as important of a role in the final GC, whether there are 20 kilometers or 50 kilometers of them.

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5) Pogačar is leaving extremely valuable ‘free’ time on the table due to his UAE team’s weakness

All of this brings us to the question of what Tadej Pogačar and his UAE team should learn from their second consecutive beatdown at the hands of Jumbo and Vingegaard.

First, Pogačar needs to have a perfect lead-in to the Tour to challenge Vingegaard over three weeks.

If he wants to limit his losses in the third week, he simply cannot afford to be building back from an injury sustained in the Spring Classics.

Unfortunately, this means that if he wants to win the Tour, he will likely have to pause his multi-race calendar and mimic Vingegaard’s highly focused, altitude-camp-heavy preparation.

The second is that his team is not currently well constructed or strong enough to control early breakaways and deliver Pogačar’s much-needed stage win time bonuses.

For example, on the stage 13 run to Grand Colombier, Pogačar lost six free seconds because his UAE team couldn’t control the early move.

The same goes for stage 9 to Puy du Dôme, where he would have had a 10-second bonus for winning the stage.

It might sound trivial to quibble over a few seconds here and there. However, assuming Pogačar could have limited his TT and climbing losses to Vingegaard to 20-seconds, he would have beaten him in the overall.

If his team could manage breakaways ever better, Pogačar could let the gap to Vingegaard grow out to close to a minute on the road yet still take the overall win.

The third is that while Adam Yates was a fantastic addition to the team and gave Pogačar much-needed mountain support, he was never enough of a threat for Jumbo to take him seriously or for Vingegaard to have to make a tough decision if Pogačar let him ride up the road.

Having a third contender for the win, whether in the form of teammates Juan Ayuso or João Almeida, or Remco Evenepoel as a rival, could help muddy the waters and allow Pogačar’s superior racing strategy to thrive (like Jumbo did in 2022 to crack Pogačar).

This would allow Pogačar to exploit a potential weakness of Vingegaard, which is that he can appear overwhelmed during actual racing situations late in stages, which leads to mistakes (i.e., letting Pogačar ride in his wheel up the final climb on stage 6, which left him unable to respond to Pogačar’s attack).

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Ranking the Overall Team Performances Throughout the Tour (relative to pre-race expectations)
1) Jumbo (1x stage win, 1x GC win)
2) UAE (3x stage win, 2x GC podium)
3) Alpecin (4x stage win, 1x Green Jersey)
4) Bahrain-Victorious (3x stage win, 1x GC top ten)
5) Ineos (2x stage win, 1x GC top five)
6) Cofidis (2x stage win, 1x GC top ten
7) Bora (2x stage win, 1x GC top ten)
8) Lidl-Trek (1x stage win, 1x KOM Jersey)
9) AG2R (1x stage win, 1x GC top ten)
10) Jayco-Alula (1x GC top five)
11) QuickStep (1x stage win)
12) Groupama-FDJ (1x GC top ten, 1x fun Pinot breakaway)
13) Israel-Premier Tech (1x stage win, aggressive racing)
14) Lotto-Dtsy (1x stage runner-up, aggressive racing)
15) Uno-X (2x stage podium, lots of aggressive racing)
16) EF-Education First (12x days in KOM, not much else despite talented team)
17) Arkea-Samsic (was in a few breakaways)
18) TotalEnergies (3x stage podium)
19) Intermarche (2x stage podium)
20) Astana (1x stage runner-up)
21) DSM (1x stage top five)
22) Movistar (1x stage podium)

# You can see the PEZ ‘TOUR’23: Stage-By-Stage Photo & Video Round-Up’ HERE.#

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# 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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