Between Vingegaard, Pogacar and Thomas, almost unprecedented differences on the Tour de France in the 21st century

Eight minutes. You have to go back to 2002, when Lance Armstrong dominated the Tour by head, shoulders, mail train and other means, to find such a gap between first and third overall after 19 stages of the Tour de France. The disbursement was then 8’17” exactly for Raimondas Rumsas, who had just yielded 53 seconds more to the American in the clock arrived at Mâcon.

Eight minutes is what separates Jonas Vingegaard, undisputed Yellow Jersey of the Tour 2022, from Geraint Thomas, third. This was already the case on Friday morning at the start of the 18th stage and there, we had to go back a year further, to 2001, to find a bigger gap – 9’05 ahead, again for Armstrong, over the Spaniard Joseba Beloki, after a time trial, again.

Either way, there was also a chasm between the American and second overall. Jan Ullrich was 6’44 behind Armstrong after 19 stages in 2001; Beloki by 7’17 in 2002. All this has naturally been erased from the shelves since the revelation of the systematic and organized doping of the Texan, but the chronometric archives remain.

This year, Tadej Pogacar is less far from his rival, but still points to 3’26 at the start of the 20th stage, a time trial this Saturday, over 40 km between Lacapelle-Marival – Rocamadour.

Since Armstrong therefore, no one had crushed the competition as Vingegaard did on this Tour, with the exception of Vincenzo Nibali in 2014, who had confirmed his supremacy at the top of Hautacam, like the Dane this year, and dismissed Jean-Christophe Péraud, 2nd, at 7’10” and Thibaut Pinot, 3rd, at 7’23”.

Two-speed lathe

The Dane therefore left no room for doubt and his Slovenian opponent can be associated with it because their mano a mano probably pushed the Jumbo leader to crush the race. As proof, although beaten, Pogacar is still very strong this year: he has an unprecedented lead over the third in the Tour in the 21st century. The gap between the first two pursuers of the Yellow Jersey had never exceeded 3’21” after 19 stages. He pushed Geraint Thomas to 4’34”.

This figure is perhaps much more representative of this two-speed Tour: a match for two in front, the rest of the world behind. If the leader of the general classification has often won the race, or almost, at this stage of the race – it is the 13th time in 22 editions that the gap between 1st and 2nd is greater than two minutes after 19 stages -, his rivals are regularly within the same minute and in most cases separated by less than thirty seconds. This year, we are far, very far.


It is only the fifth time out of the 22 editions of the Tour contested in the 21st century that the gap between 2nd and 3rd overall has been greater than one minute after 19 stages, after 2001, 2003 and 2015.
Thirteen times the difference was equal to or less than 30 seconds.


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