Vingegaard makes Pogacar human on Mont Ventoux

Van Aert won the stage of the Giant of Provence, a day after being second to the sprint, and his Jumbo teammate took down the leader, although he did not take advantage of it.


Wout van Aert works the same for a torn as for an unstitched. He is, objectively, the most complete cyclist in the world peloton. He can fight for the win on the sprint, as he did the day before at Valence, when he qualified second to Mark Cavendish. He can fight for time trials, as happened in Laval, where he finished fourth, 30 seconds behind Tadej Pogacar. He can dominate in cyclo-cross, a specialty in which he won three consecutive world titles between 2016 and 2018, until his eternal enemy Van der Poel unseated him from the gold. You can conquer a great classic, like this course on the Amstel Gold Race and the Ghent-Wevelgem, or the past on the Strade Bianche and the Milan-San Remo. He can be the best gregarious on the Tour in all areas, like last year for Primoz Roglic. And you can win, like today, a stage with two climbs to Mont Ventoux.

Van Aert, already far from the leading positions of the general, and without team obligations due to the withdrawal of his leader Roglic, got into the break of the 11th stage this Wednesday, a route that hosted two ascents to the Moon. That is to say, to Mont Ventoux. A legend of the Tour. The Belgian entered a luxury group led by Julian Alaphilippe, which also included Van Avermaet, Rolland, Anthony Pérez ... as well as three Trek cyclists, who launched a collective attack with Bernard, Elissonde and Mollema. But it was not the day of any of them. It was the day of Van Aert, who had chosen this date to go into climber mode.

While they were bidding for glory on the stage, from behind they sought eternal glory. The Ineos was in charge of hardening the race in the two climbs. Geraint Thomas did it in the first step, a true Tour winner. And they did Michal Kwiatkowski and Richie Porte, a world champion and a podium in Paris, on the second climb. The idea was to finish off with Richard Carapaz. It was missing to know with what final part of victims. David Gaudu, until then tenth classified, an outstanding winner of two stages in the last Vuelta, was the first to open, he did not resist even the first climb. Already in the second Ben O'Connor fell soon, who collided with the reality of fighting for the general, a habitat that is not his, but that of a heroic adventurer. The Australian started the stage in second place, at 2:01 from Pogacar, and finished it in fifth, at 5: 58.

The expected offensive of the Ecuadorian, firmly marked by the yellow jersey, did not come. The pace of the Ineos had been tremendous, even for him. There were still two kilometers to the top, the race was already in the bare area of the Giant of Provence, where the air does not find the lungs, when Enric Mas got off the rivals to leave 1:24 at the finish line. The podium moves away. In the absence of an attack from Carapaz, the one who did start was Jonas Vingegaard, another released from the Jumbo after Roglic's abandonment. And then what no one had predicted happened: Pogacar could not hold his pace and appeared vulnerable in the eyes of the world. There is a Tour, we all think.

Vingegaard then did not know how to open a gap in the descent of Mont Ventoux, he did not even maintain the advantage. Pogacar, Carapaz and Urán, now united by the same objective, caught the Dane in the vicinity of Malaucène. The new leader of the Jumbo did not take advantage of the situation, but perhaps he achieved one more important thing: to show that Pogacar has fissures, that he is not a machine. The Pyrenees are still missing, let's not forget. And a window opens to the hope of a turnaround. Still very small. The second classified, Rigoberto Urán, is still at 5:18 minutes. Although we now know that the Slovenian is human, we must not lose perspective.

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