Tour de France: Favorites check Tadej Pogacar vs Jonas Vingegaard – Jens Voigt sees clear advantages for Slovenians

Is Tadej Pogacar ready for a duel with Jonas Vingegaard after his fall and subsequent surgery?

Jens Voigt: I am convinced that this duel will come about and it was almost a stroke of luck for Pogacar that the fall forced him to rest and he was able to do a deep regeneration of the whole body. Now he will be hungry. Despite his youth, he already has so much experience that his training values ​​show him that he is ready for the tour: he will be in top form. His wrist cuff only serves to make the others feel safer. He had plenty of time to make a precise plan with his support team. From my point of view, he hardly lost any form during the compulsory break and for me he is the big favorite of this tour. He seems more self-confident to me, mentally stronger and he rarely makes mistakes, the crash in Liège wasn’t his fault either.
Tour defending champion Jonas Vingegaard has at the Dauphiné the competition gathered there confidently kept in check…

Tour de France

Favorites and key stages: Questions and answers about the 2023 Tour


Voigt: He actually drove very dominantly and from my point of view was almost in top form. But that’s also a balancing act: it’s more than a month from the Dauphiné to the decisive final week of the tour – can he keep his form that long? There are examples of both variants in history: some drivers dominated both races, but others excelled in the Dauphiné and then weakened in the Tour. Maybe Vingegaard was too good a little too early, that’s the danger I see.

Last year, Pogacar’s helpers were very weak early on due to failures. How do you assess the team strength of Jumbo-Visma and UAE?

Voigt: That’s Vingegaard’s big advantage: His team is much stronger, there’s no comparison to the other teams in terms of depth and breadth of the squad. Many of their drivers would be captains elsewhere themselves, they are that good!

Missing this time around is Primoz Roglic, who played a key role as co-captain in the ultimately crucial stage at the Glandon in 2022: what about the tactical options for Jumbo?

Voigt: They will have to think again, because in a head-to-head I think Pogacar is the better driver. The situation for Jumbo is different this time, because Sepp Kuss and Wilco Keldermann are great drivers, but not captains whose attacks Pogacar would have to react to directly. They don’t have a plan B this time. They have to come up with a new, unconventional tactic and use the power of their team to do so. Because they are superior to UAE there and they could try, for example, to isolate Pogacar in the mountains as often and as early as possible so that he can then leave his strength there.

Highlights: Pogacar collapses – Jumbo-Visma crowns a creamy day in the Alps

But in Adam Yates, UAE have a real co-captain this time alongside Pogacar, he was second in the Dauphiné and won the Tour de Romandie: how does that affect the balance of power?

Voigt: He’s really been an important asset to the team. Because last year Pogacar lost because there was not always a helper at his side on the last mountain. That will be different with Yates and give him more security.

The start of the tour is a real challenge this time, what can the drivers expect?

Voigt: Any rider with GC ambitions needs to be on top form in the Basque Country, there’s no rolling back on this Tour. Even the 1st stage on Saturday is by no means something for the sprinters, the 2nd stage is then a real test of form: We all know the last mountain from the Clasica San Sebastian and the race was often dominated by soloists or small groups. Things will really get down to business there and you shouldn’t underestimate the downhill run with a few tricky curves. Every three or four stages there is a real bang in the further course of the tour, there will not be a quiet week for the classification riders.

Tour route: The course with all 21 stages from Bilbao to Paris

What role will the bonuses play in the finish and on selected climbs? At Paris-Nice in March, Pogacar was already chasing every second to distance Vingegaard…

Voigt: You will certainly fight for every bonus. Because you can collect really important seconds in total and also demoralize the opponent a bit. The level between them is too even, so they have to try to use every little advantage.

At the Giro d’Italia everyone assumed a duel between Remco Evenepoel and Roglic. In the end, however, Geraint Thomas was only 14 seconds short of victory. Would such a surprise also be possible on the tour?

Voigt: Honestly no! There are a lot of great riders in this Tour, but in my opinion nobody who could be at the front at the level of Pogacar and Vingegaard. For Bora-hansgrohe, Jai Hindley makes his Tour debut with big aspirations, but a Giro win doesn’t quite compare to a Tour win. He can certainly take part in the fight for the podium, but it will hardly go higher than third place. That also applies to David Gaudu, Mikel Landa, Ben O’Connor or Richard Carapaz – I don’t see anyone on an equal footing with the two big favourites.

A debate has erupted around Wout Van Aert since he announced he might leave the tour early to attend the birth of his second child. How does a father of six assess that and how has the handling of such concerns changed in the meantime?

Voigt: Only a happy driver is a good driver. If someone is forced to do something against their will, then they only drive with 80 percent passion. One of my children was born during the tour and I only attended his birthday twice during my playing days. Van Aert is the key driver at Jumbo alongside Vingegaard, but childbirth, let’s not forget, is also a dangerous moment for both mother and child. Wanting to have your partner by your side is an absolutely understandable desire. If then criticized “the drivers are all soft” – that’s nonsense! It’s just different today and I think it’s better that way!

In the second part of his big tour preview, Jens Voigt talks here on Friday about the chances of the German starters and his “comeback” as a motorcycle reporter in the middle of the tour!

You might also be interested in this: Tour 2023: All 21 stages, profiles, climbs and climbs

Tour route: The course with all 21 stages from Bilbao to Paris


Pogacar relinquishes role as favorite – Vingegaard relaxed before the start


Tour de France

Gilbert with tactical tip for Vingegaard: “If I were Jumbo…”


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