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ROCAMADOR, France: Jonas Winggaard nearly survived the “heart attack” of a fall in Saturday’s individual time-trial, virtually wrapping up the Tour de France and now guaranteed champions only at the Champs-lysées finish line in Paris on Sunday. Need to cross yellow shirt.

The 21st and final stage – after three weeks and 3,350 kilometers of relentless struggle over the peaks, over the plains and through a crushing heatwave – is a largely ceremonial race that will see the remaining riders sip on champagne as they head to the French capital. I am in the air.

The peloton rolls past the Jardin de Luxembourg, through Saint Michel, over the Pont Neuf and to the Louvre before a sprint over eight laps of the Champs Elysees.

A presentation ceremony takes place beneath the Arc de Triomphe, when sunset occurs at the 109th edition of the world’s largest bike race, which has been broadcast live in 60 countries.

Team Jumbo’s wingguard is ahead of two-time defending champion Tadej Pogakar in 3:34 seconds while Geraint Thomas of 2018 winners Ineos Grenadiers is third in 8:13.

FDJ’s Frenchman David Gaudeau and Bora’s Aleksandar Vlasov round out the top five ahead of Sunday’s stage, which is traditionally a formal race.

Saturday’s time-trial was won by Vout van Aert ahead of his Danish teammate Winggaard, meaning Jumbo has six stage wins, the yellow jersey, the green sprint jersey and the polka dot mountain jersey.

Two years earlier, Pogacar famously reversed a 57-second deficit in the final day’s time-trial at La Planche des Bells Filles to snatch the win from Primoz Rogi.

But on Saturday, Wingguard flew the last of the 139 surviving riders on the ramp and set a relentlessly high speed through baking country roads, meaning a battle of nerves with Pogakar never really erupted.

However, he suffered a late wobble, lost his rear wheel, slammed into a creek on the gravel, but just managed to correct himself.
“I almost had a heart attack,” Winggard admitted.

“I grew up, I became a better rider. We are the first Dutch team to do this in 43 years and I am proud of myself and every rider on the team.

The 25-year-old winggaard, who finished runner-up in 2021 behind Pogakar, said he was already thinking about his 2023 challenge.

“I want to celebrate this win first but of course I want to be back on the Tour for another victory,” he said.

“I didn’t set myself five Tours de France or anything like that. I just want to come back and win.”

The Dane was eight seconds faster than his great rival on Saturday, and Pogakar looked disappointed at the finish line.

“I’m proud of myself, I did what I could, and at least I have the white jersey (best under-25),” Pogakar said. “I’ve learned a lot, I’ll go away and analyze it.”

Thomas will also be remembered for his under-the-radar approach that took the podium at 36.

Thomas said, “I’m over the moon to be on the podium, people talk about age, but for me it’s about the mindset, if you eat properly, train, rest then you You can achieve a lot.”

“I will celebrate, but I will try not to celebrate too much. I can see the end of my career and I want to make the most of it.

Denmark’s Jonas Winggaard and teammates climb the Ouerquet d’Encison pass during stage 17 of the Tour de France cycling race on July 20, 2022. (AP)

The two main characters battle each other from start to finish, with Wingguard taking down the two-time champion with a pair of soaring performances in the high mountains.

Pogakar ran all the opening races with his lone wolf mentality, slowly rising to the top spot on stage six with a presence of invincibility.

But the stars allied against Pogakar when he lost teammates to Covid and injury. He is known to dislike scorching heat.

The wingguard took the yellow jersey from Pogakar on stage 11, and while the UAE man refused to give up, he lost further ground on stage 18.

Their epic struggle was ignited by a moment of sporting spirit as Pogacar fell at speed and his claimant to the throne awaits his capture, the pair briefly appearing in a memorable image from one of the Tour’s best modern editions. was shaking hands with.

“We don’t really talk to each other outside of racing, but we get along,” Winggaard said.

“He is one of the best riders in the world and I respect him, we respect each other.”