You can keep your handshake, the 5am phone call is the image of the Tour

Hi Tadej do you want picking up in the morning pal.

by Jonny Long

“Hi. Yes mate, taxi for two please. We’re just on the street outside the club, you’ll spot us.”

Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar stumble into the taxi. They giggle the whole way home.

“Remember when you nearly fell off on the descent and lost the Tour de France?” Tadej tells Jonas. “Remember earlier when you did fall off on the descent and I had to wait for you?” Jonas quips back at Tadej. They laugh. The taxi driver wonders who they are, why one of them is wearing a grey and orange vest and the other a zipped-open white lycra jersey, still wearing sunglasses and a helmet.

They get home and crash through the door. They’ve got to be up early tomorrow for stage 19. “People say there could be crosswinds tomorrow, better zip that yellow jersey up extra tight!” Tadej shouts out, lying down on a sofa. “Good luck pulling apart the peloton with two teammates!” Jonas hits back.

Almost immediately they’re asleep, exhausted after another day of dominating the Tour de France.

Of course, this is not what happened yesterday after stage 18 to Hautacam. It is also obviously not what the photo depicts. But it does look like it, doesn’t it? Pogačar with the drunken zeal of someone on a night out who’s just bumped into their friend after losing them for a couple of hours in the darkness of the dancefloor.

Pogačar bounds over like an excitable puppy. He puts an arm around Jonas, who is trying to order takeaway pizza having drunk the bar dry of Carlsberg Export. “Get off! I’m trying to make sure they don’t put pineapple on my pizza!” In reality Vingegaard was just trying to have a phone call with his partner and baby daughter, the importance of whom Vingegaard has reiterated after each stage win.

But that freeze frame from the television cameras is just perfect. While the history books and most people will remember stage 18 – the day when Vingegaard probably vanquished Pogačar at the 2022 Tour de France – by the handshake the pair shared after the Dane waited for the crashed Slovenian, I’m going to try and instead label that section of my memory with the drunk phone call photo.

Everyone has opinions on the handshake. A manifestation of humanity not being 100% awful 100% of the time? Or a moment lacking the ferocity of elite level competition, lacking a bite and edge that makes legends out of sporting foes?

In contrast, you can’t have an opinion on the drunk phone call photo. It’s just great.

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