Jonas Vingegaard proved that Tadej Pogačar is not invincible and made a huge upset in the Tour de France stage 11, turning the GC battle upside down. Vingegaard struck with 4 kilometres to go on the mighty Col du Granon climb (11.28 km, 9.20%), cracking Pogačar badly. Vingegaard broke the Col du Granon record by more than 5 minutes, which was previously owned by Urs Zimmermann and Greg LeMond, who set it in the 1986 Tour.
Col du Granon is one of the hardest climbs ever used in the Tour. 11.4 kilometres and the steep 9.1% gradient is a serious challenge for everyone, but it tops out at 2404 metres above sea level, which makes it dangerous because after going in the red zone at high altitude, riders might blow up, which happened today.
Tadej Pogačar was the favourite to win the stage. Before the climb started his odds in the betting markets were around 1.8, while Jonas Vingegaard was second favourite at 3.6. Before Col du Granon Jumbo-Visma tried to attack multiple times Pogačar, using both Primož Roglič and Vingegaard at the end of the Telegraphe and early shallow slopes of the Col du Galibier. The strategy did not work immediately as Pogačar closed every attack and Roglič completely cracked later in the race, but it made the UAE Team Emirates rider more fatigued. After pacing by teammate Marc Soler and another attack by Primoz Roglic, Pogačar even took matters into his own hands, pacing the entirety of the last section of the Galibier with Vingegaard in his wheel.
In 1986, Greg LeMond on Col du Granon gained more than 3 minutes to his closest rival, the race leader and teammate Bernard Hinault. After the stage LeMond became the new leader of the race. The exact same thing happened also today, when Vingegaard dropped the maillot jaune and gained multiple minutes.
Vingegaard attacked late on Granon as he did not have teammates and the GC group was paced by Pogačar’s teammate Rafal Majka. Possibly Majka paced too hard on Granon and helped to cook Pogačar, who lost 2 minutes and 51 seconds in a short span of time to Vingegaard, unable to ever respond to his attack. A similar thing happened also in the 2021 Tour, where the Dane dropped Pogačar on Ventoux and gained 40 seconds very quickly.
Vingegaard did 6.10 w/kg for 35 minutes and 55 seconds, breaking Urs Zimmermann and Greg LeMond’s record by 5:20. However in the 1986 Tour the stage was even harder and they were riding 9-10 kg bikes.
Vingegaard’s high altitude effort is very impressive because it is way harder to push big watts when the oxygen amount is limited and the air density is lower. Compared to Egan Bernal’s best high altitude performances from the 2019 Tour and the 2021 Giro, Vingegaard’s effort seems superior.
- Col du Granon 6.10 w/kg for 35:55 (start 1366m -> top 2404m, average altitude 1885m)
- Passo Giau 5.91 w/kg for 32:45 (start 1303m -> top 2225m, avg. alt. 1764m)
- Col d’Iseran 5.77 w/kg for 35:50 (1804m -> 2758m, avg. alt. 2281m)
Vingegaard now has a 2:22min lead over Pogačar but the Tour is not over as there are left many hard stages and everyone knows what happened during the 2020 Tour stage 20 time-trial, where Pogačar made a huge upset, becoming the new race leader after a nuclear performance on La Planche des Belles Filles.
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Pogačar today was not great as the temperature was over 30C, which is not optimal for him, combined with long high altitude climbs.
Pogačar has not been able to drop and crack Vingegaard on climbs that are over 30 minutes since the 2021 Tour. Vingegaard did his best pure w/kg performance right before the Tour, where he pushed 6.32 w/kg for 34:34 on Plateau de Solaison. Vingegaard would have been even faster up that climb if he would not have needed to wait for his teammate Primož Roglič, who was struggling on his wheel.
Tomorrow the stage finishes with Alpe d’Huez, which suits Vingegaard’s abilities as it is expected to be climbing around 38-39 minutes at a steep gradient, if the pace is high. Jumbo-Visma must kill Pogačar’s GC win ambitions, as the Slovenian did in the 2021 Tour on stage 8.