Jonas Vingegaard

Jonas Vingegaard won the sole ‘Tour de France‘ to have started in his home country, Denmark, at the age of 25 years. It was as if everything had been set up for him: a combination of factors put a former fish factory worker from the Great North in the Yellow Jersey. His surname is also one that would undoubtedly please a country synonymous with fine wines: Vingegaard, in Danish, means vineyard. The Dane already had tears in the eyes in this Tour de France before they flowed again when he had definitively vanquished the threat posed by Tadej Pogačar. Out of the ten Danish riders taking starter’s orders in Copenhagen, the runner-up in 2021 was the most emotional on the team presentation stage, loudly acclaimed by tens of thousands of his countrymen and countrywomen who had come to the Tivoli Gardens. When Denmark officially submitted its application for a Grand Départ in June 2016, one month earlier, at the age of 19 years, Jonas Vingegaard had just signed his first contract as a professional cyclist. The arrival on the big stage for the native of Hillerslev in the north of the country resembles one of Andersen’s fairy tales: when the managers of Dutch team Jumbo-Visma came to scout Julius Johansen, the Junior World Champion in 2017, the former rider Christian Andersen advised them instead to bet on the potential of Jonas Vingegaard, a skinny little rider without much pedigree. At the start of the 2021 season, none of the Grand Tours featured on his racing programme, and it was only the career hiatus taken by Tom Dumoulin that enabled a place to be freed up for him in the squad to start the Tour de France from Brest. He was given the role of lieutenant, but instead ended up deputising for his general, still Roglič, who had fallen at the front. And so, by an improbable combination of circumstances, Denmark, scheduled to host the ‘Grand Départ‘ in 2021 (but postponed by Covid), found itself with the outgoing runner-up among the list of favourites in Copenhagen. In truth, Vingegaard was more of an outsider, one of the two spearheads for the general classification in the strong Jumbo-Visma armada. However, Roglič fell once again, and the roles were reversed: the Slovene, in spite of his back pains, gave his all for his Danish team-mate. Vingegaard soared up the Col du Granon pass, a spectacular setting for a spectacular assumption of power. If he was born three weeks later than 10th December 1996, Jonas Vingegaard would have also been the best young rider on the 2022 Tour de France, even if he arguably looks younger than his age: he was the best climber in addition to the overall winner.