Stage 20. Total victory for the Jumbos

On the road to the Tour.

And we saw quite clearly that the cleaver of brutal last sufferings would unleash its merciless blade. On the eve of the return to Paris and the late but customary parade on the Champs-ELysées, the 139 survivors had to honor a no less usual formality of the last Saturday of the Tour: the time trial, disputed this time between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour (40.7 km), on an abnormally long format in cycling « modern » and a rolling profile and not too much of a headache, rather favoring strong men (Van Aert), gender specialists (Ganna, Küng) and the powerful of the third week (Vingegaard, Pogacar, Thomas), those for whom the he magical art nestled well behind the muscular and robotic metronomy.

Everyone knew from the Pyrenean explanations that the solo exercise, this year, held no suspense as to the outcome of this edition that Jonas Vingegaard bent since taking power on the murderous heights of Granon, on July 13, before to drive the point home brilliantly in Hautacam, this Thursday. The first places in the general classification seemed fixed and even David Gaudu, fourth, did not have much to fear from his immediate pursuer Naïro Quintana.

Coat rack tunes frozen in pain

The chronicleœur remembered that the Grande Boucle, time-distorting machine and visiting daughter of Romanesque and Gothic art, stones and mountains, is being developed in a nomadic space through which humanity also claims its lush topography anchored in the memory. The arrival in Rocamadour lent itself well to this great history more than a century old. Always a matter of belief, in a way. Because here, in the Middle Ages, the city flanked on a cliff in the Alzou valley, attracted a large number of pilgrims coming to implore the Black Virgin, who, according to legend, performs miracles and watches over the relics of Saint-Amadour. . The fifties and sixties will remember that the village knew much later notoriety with a new public at the exit of the tube of Gérard Blanchard and his love « gone with the wolf in the caves of Rock Amadour », celebrating with a refrain impossible to forget the monumental escarpments nestled in the rock.

Under a still generous sun and a post-scorch heat, we saw feverishness in some, tranquility in others, the ultimate power for those who sought to shine. We were expecting a possible stunt from the Belgian Wout Van Aert, one of the main organizers of this 109e editing. And why not the extra soul – not to say the burst of mad pride – of Tadej Pogacar, the magnificent loser. For a long time, since he left very early, the Italian Finippo Ganna (Ineos), double world champion on the road in the specialty, was the reference man for this time (48’41 »). It was thus necessary to wait all afternoon, constructing a thousand scenarios, for the interest of the competition to take shape. Meanwhile, some looked like coat racks frozen in pain, others, more massively built, had a back so straight in the roundness of the effort that their rhomboid muscles looked like armor conducive to all jolts. inconsiderate.

Experimental beings pushed to the extreme

In truth, we felt the collective fatigue weighing on the bruised bodies. For several days, we had known the peloton was bloodless, after so many battles and fights carried out at a hellish pace. We already knew one of the essential data for 2022: the average speed of the event will be the highest in its history, over 42 km/h this year. One of two things, either the specter of ultra-sophisticated and bio-scientific doping rages in a sneaky way – a credible hypothesis – or the new ways of racing, not to mention the constant improvement of equipment and roads, accentuate performance. Unless the two explanations overlap, for a good part.

In this case, the World Anti-Doping Code remaining desperately silent for lack of evidence – the only “positives” now switch to the Covid side –, let’s also admit that the new professional manners no longer leave anything to chance. Cyclists now become the prefiguration of a future world that we dread. Experimental laboratory beings, pushed to the extreme and always on the alert, never “at rest”. The best teams have imposed these infernal logics, the others will have to get used to it… except to endorse the famous “two-speed cycling”. We’re not done talking about it, are we?

The epic of July was once an extreme endurance test, it has entered another dimension, that of a resistance exercise subjected to absolute selective intensity… the chronicœur

We tried to chase these thoughts from our tortured brains and concentrate on the time trial, a particular exercise for which, moreover, all the major formations of the World Tour prepare meticulously (Jumbo, UAE, Trek, Bora, Quick-Step, Alpha Vinyl, etc). All of them have “specialists” in this specific preparation, “performance directors” and dedicated “coaches” in their management, with upstream preparations, high-tech exercises and plans adapted to each runner. Science at all levels. Proof, in the Jumbo, who have so and so dynamited the race. We looked at Wout van Aert, scrutinized his build, that undulation that started from the kidneys where the shocks were lost, the rounded axis all in power in its station lying down to crush the pedals, and we understood what these mysterious words really meant for all neophyte, « the bicycle extends the body », or, designating the opposite movement, « he has incorporated it ». The Swiss army knife Van Aert turned into this proven and recognized all-purpose monster. He even became the « Super Combatif du Tour 2022 », elected unanimously by the jury…

It was 5:03 p.m. when the green jersey crossed the line and lit the magic light for the « best time », in 47’59 ». From then on, we had to wait and follow the performance of the general’s « leaders » to get a clear idea of ​​the situation. And we were not at the end of our surprises. In the first part, the Thomas-Pogacar-Vingegaard trio started quickly, roughly in Van Aert’s times, then, halfway through the race, everything cleared up somewhat. Thomas and Pogacar lost seconds on the Belgian… but Vingegaard, intoxicated by his yellow overcoat, began to use familiar terms with his teammate and, above all, kept the Briton and the Slovenian away. In a position almost lying on his machine, the Dane unrolled a swift pedal, full of enthusiasm and desire. The energy developed was visible, obvious, as if everything flowed naturally from the simple desire to do battle. We saw a boss in action, no more and no less, who responded with physicality and psychology united.

A form of “total cycling”

Up to a certain point: in the descent towards Rocamadour, the yellow jersey narrowly missed the fall in a corner taken too wide. A serious call to order. On the line, Thomas failed 32 seconds behind Van Aert, as did Pogacar, who returned 27 to the Belgian. The main thing was elsewhere. Jonas Vingegaard, after his big scare, secured his back and freewheeled under the final gantry, with a passive of 19 seconds on his teammate Van Aert. The Jumbos finished first and second. Total victory in the form of absolutism.

The myth of the Tour, which periodically needs new incarnations, had just fallen on Jonas Vingegaard, winner of the event. A lump of joy stunned his face inside, which he barely lifted before letting it beam between his finely veined temples. He blubbered like a spoiled, fulfilled, exhausted kid. No doubt he couldn’t help thinking of this weight, central and magnetic, which was now drawing a wave of fabulous feelings to his head and his mind. The chronicleœHe then had a definitive conviction. The epic of July was once an extreme endurance test, it has entered another dimension, that of a resistance exercise subjected to absolute selective intensity, a form of « total cycling » to which one must sacrifice. The Dane from Jumbo has become one of the main agents.

Icon TitleGeneral classification

  1. Vingegaard
  2. Pogacar at 3’34 »
  3. Thomas at 8’13 »
  4. Gaudu at 13’56 »
  5. Vlasov at 16’37 »
  6. Quintana at 17’24 »
  7. Bardet at 19’02 »


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