The king is dead. Long live the king.

Lifting only one hand in celebration is what feels natural to Jonas Vingegaard, the likely conquerer of Tadej Pogačar.

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Jonas Vingegaard is eating a big slice of what looks like chocolate cake. It’s fair to say he deserves it. He takes around a minute to finish it, and once that’s done the press conference to discuss his consolidation of the Tour de France yellow jersey can begin.

This past week has been no normal yellow jersey defence. Tadej Pogačar, the two-time defending champion, looked unbeatable up until stage 11 on the Col du Granon. But since wrenching it from his rival’s shoulders Vingegaard has raced as calmly as he conducts himself after the finish line. A muted one-handed celebration. Measured words to describe his victory. Long gone is the comedy of errors we saw during The Great Bike Swap of the Roubaix stage two weeks ago.

There will probably be other celebrations, but the one we have grown used to seeing from Vingegaard after the finish of victorious Tour stages is him on the phone to his family. Vingegaard’s minute-and-four-second head start over the finish line allowed him the opportunity to get on the rollers and the telephone for a warm down and a call home before Pogačar can seek out the champion-elect to congratulate him.

The Slovenian appears to want more of a chat, but Vingegaard is focused on the call to his “two girls at home”. “Of course,” he continues. “Calling them is the first thing.” The second thing, after a podium featuring French president Emmanuel Macron, is the big slice of chocolate cake. There are no longer kings of France, but at the Tour the old king is dead and the new one seems all but assured of his throne.

The third thing on the list of things Vingegaard wants to do is to thank his Jumbo-Visma team. While Jonas Vingegaard was the individual eventually capable of distancing Pogačar, the strength of Jumbo-Visma, which has been feared as the next big scary thing at the Tour since the mid-summer resumption of the 2020 season, has finally come to fruition.

Primož Roglič, Sepp Kuss and Wout van Aert have combined to stretch Tadej Pogačar to his absolute limit and ultimately break him. They were too strong in attack on the Col du Granon stage and on this final mountain up to Hautacam they showed their defensive strength too.

Pogačar didn’t want to dwell on how his crash may have impacted the stage. “Jumbo were too strong,” he said. “I tried, I went for the yellow. I didn’t give up, I pushed my limits. Today the best man won.”

Yet soon, after both riders weather any potential crosswinds on stage 19, it will be another one-on-one battle in the stage 20 individual time trial.

“I mean, of course it’s different to attack than to defend,” Vingegaard added. “It is a different mentality – defending you always try to go in the wheel and attacking you try to drop everyone off the wheel, so yeah, it is different.” In the time trial there will be no wheels but his own.

The focal point of Jumbo-Visma’s strength is the inexhaustible Wout van Aert. His insatiable desire to get up the road consistently over the three weeks to both mop up green jersey points, contest stage wins and also lurk ominously as a satellite for Jumbo-Visma’s yellow jersey ambitions has been something to watch. Have we ever seen the green jersey of the Tour de France pace-setting the yellow jersey up the final HC-climb of a Tour?

So impressive is the Belgian that the question was asked of Jonas Vingegaard whether Van Aert is a potential future rival for GC leadership within the team.

Vingegaard’s eyes went wide as he took a sip of water.

“I think you’ll have to ask [sports director] Merijn Zeeman about that,” he answered assertively. “Wout is of course one of the best riders in the world on all terrain, but I don’t think there will be any problems because I don’t think Wout has the ambitions to go for GC – and if he does we can share the leadership. I shared the leadership this year with Primož and I think in the end it’s actually better to have two leaders.”

The mellow contrast to the all-conquering Wout van Aert is Jonas Vingegaard. Where Wout flaps his wings or Tadej Pogačar insists on sitting up with both arms in the air when he crosses the line first, Vingegaard usually only takes one hand off his handlebars, holding it aloft and clenched in victory.

“I don’t know,” he said of the celebration. “I didn’t think about it. It seemed natural to me to only lift one hand off so that’s what I did.”

Wearing the yellow jersey is seemingly coming naturally to him too.

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