Johan Brunel: Jumbo-Visma gives Tadig Pojakar a lot of homework


The last Tour de France was not only fantastic but also at an unprecedented high level. Gerant Thomas emphasized how cycling continues to evolve each year. At the age of thirty-sixste, four years after winning the Tour de France in 2018, he finished third. But he maintains his numbers are now much better than they were in his successful year 2018, while in this year’s standings he had to concede 7’22 to Jonas Weinggaard. It proves how exceptionally strong Jonas Vinggaard is, as has Tadej Pojjakar in recent weeks.

I think Jumbo-Visma has given their opponent Pogacar and his UAE team a lot of ideas. Of course, the sport has evolved further in recent years thanks to science and riders’ recovery after hard workouts has improved dramatically. However, I insist that you should drive as economically as possible in the fight for the yellow jersey. You must carefully consider every action you take. You have to be as careful as possible with your powers and you definitely don’t want to race at full speed every day.

Vingegaard completed a very thorough build for this tour and every action he took on the tour was spot on. He attacked three times. First on La Planche des Belles Filles to win the stage. Then he really attacked on Col du Granon and Hautacam to gain time in the rankings. These measures were very effective.

On the other hand, Pogacar saw the tour as a pitch from day one. On the cobbled stage, he traveled thirty kilometers in the front line. At Longwy and La Planche des Belles Filles, he ran into stage victories. Then he tried to attack everywhere every second and went in sprints for seventh place in the result of the day.

Photo: Cor Vos

Of course, his landing on Col du Granon forced him to choose attack. In the lead-up to Galibier, he allowed himself to be tempted by team Jumbo-Visma and was pressured. I think that’s why he forgot to eat and that’s what led to Granon’s lack of energy. If you see Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet lose about a minute in Vingegaard on that climb, Dane wasn’t exceptionally well that day. Then Pogacar could usually hold his loss for about half a minute. Then of course the Tour de France will be completely different.

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If you see Vingegaard Spring, he clearly worked toward the climax in the tour. The Drum Classic won early on, but at Tirreno-Adriatico he was no opponent for Pogacar and ended up second at 1’52 from the Slovenian. He then finished sixth in the Basque Country and only adapted to the Tour at Dauphin√© after winning the stage and placing second behind teammate Primoz Roglic.

Pogacar actually drove the stars from the sky in February, March and April. One overall win plus two stage wins in the UAE Tour. Massively won the Strade Bianche after a solo race of over 50 km. One overall win plus two wins in two stages at Tirreno. Fifth in Milan-San Remo and fourth (but perhaps the strongest man in the race) at the Tour of Flanders. All achievements not related to the Tour de France. He loves to race and prefers to prove himself all around, but I think he and his guidance should really evaluate this approach. I doubt this is the perfect way to win the round. The lap rider should always ride with his head and not with his instinct and passion.

Jumbo-Visma has become the new standard in cycling. In the last round, their will was the law. You can’t imagine how this team would have performed had Roglic and Kruzwick – two podium riders from recent editions of the Tour de France – stayed in the Tour to the finish.

It’s special that Jumbo-Visma was able to win the yellow, green and mountain jersey. We must go back to 1969 since the team realized this: FAIMA. Or rather: the Eddie Merckx team. He managed to win those three jerseys that year and also the youth classification, although the white jersey was not yet in existence at that time. Faema also managed to win the team classification. But we have to largely attribute that performance to Merckx and the new Merckx will never come back.

Photo: Cor Vos

I think it’s great how Jumbo-Visma has set the standards in cycling in a number of years. As of 2010, Team Sky (current INEOS – Grenadiers) has set the standard in professional cycling. With a scientific approach and lots of data, they changed the spin with their ‘marginal gains’. Then all the teams worked to copy the approach of the British.

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They have gone above and beyond at Jumbo-Visma. In recent years they have invested a large part of the budget in research and development (R&D). Innovation was critical to striving for the best in every field, operating more professionally than the competition, and thus building leadership over the rest of the group.

In this respect, cycling is increasingly comparable to Formula 1, where all areas are considered on how to progress with science. Jumbo-Visma has now raised the bar and ousted INEOS – Grenadiers from the throne. He is very handsome. Although you always need the budget to really play at the top.

Of course the INEOS – the Grenadiers are still a great team, but if they want to be involved again in the coming years to win the Tour, I see only one possibility: removing Primoz Roglic from Jumbo-Visma.

In the future, the Dutch team will mainly play the younger Vingegaard card. Roglic will have only one goal in the coming years: to win the Tour. In terms of money, he’s good with both teams. Maybe INEOS – Grenadiers can pay a little more. Then he has to think about which team the riders around him have the most chance of winning the Tour. I think this is the British team.

Vingegaard is only 25 years old and has a long future ahead of him. His life was also turned upside down after this tour. Ride hard on this round. I haven’t seen a moment of weakness with him racing as a true winner.

Photo: Cor Vos

However, the man who took part in this tour is Wout van Aert. There is no versatile racer like him. There were days when he could do whatever he wanted. One day he rode for his chances and was on break if he wanted to. The other day he was working for Vingegaard. What Van Aert showed on his way to Hautacam was very extraordinary. Unprecedented high level, which I think surprised everyone.

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Another rider who made a huge impression on me on this Tour is Jasper Philipsen. He made sure it didn’t turn into a sprint on the Champs-Elysees and that the rider was once again alone in the final photo. Of course that’s crazy, but Philipsen was on his own on this tour on the days when he was able to run free. His second places at Longwy and Rodez were very convincing. Just like his victories in Carcassonne and Paris. He is the fastest in this peloton and at 24 years old, he also has a great future.

In that regard, this tour was not only very exciting, but it also promises us a lot of great things for the future.

Megan Vasquez

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