Jonas Vingegaard is surrounded by journalists in Singapore. He has a camera in front of him with a glaring white light shining perfectly into his vision. Everywhere he looks, there are dictaphones, iPhones and microphones thrown at him, recording every word, every slip up, every syllable. They all want Jonas. This is what comes with winning the Tour de France, and Vingegaard, who just over five years ago was working in a Danish fish factory, is coping remarkably well.
“What’s your new life like?” someone asks him.
Vingegaard’s answer is measured: “There’s a small difference. I’m getting recognised a bit more, but where I live at home, it’s basically the same. There, nothing has changed. I wouldn’t say [the extra attention] is difficult, but I’m not a guy that likes it. I take it as it is.”
As questions are thrown at him, the trend of Vingegaard's serious and sensible answers continues. Will he ride the Giro, the Tour, the Vuelta, or both? “I have to talk about it with my team and see how the route compares to other races. My preference would be the Tour de France,” he says, deadpan. “Doing both, for now, would be too complicated. I have to choose one and in the future it can be that I go for both,” he continues, mature and measured.
Vingegaard celebrates with his wife and child after the final stage of the 2022 Tour de France (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
More questions are fired at Vingegaard, and each of them he answers carefully. For journalists, he doesn’t give much of a story, for Jumbo-Visma’s PR department, he’s a delight. “We’ll make a plan in December. It’s about what the team wants and what I want,” he says when probed about his calendar for the upcoming season.
While Vingegaard gave the straight answer that he hopes to ride the Tour de France again in 2023, there’s no denying that the newly-announced route doesn’t fully play to the Dane’s strengths. There’s only one time trial in the entire race which involves just 22 kilometres of undulating roads on stage 16.
“I would have liked a bit more [time-trialling]. When there’s a time trial towards the end it's to my advantage, of course it would have been nice if there was a bit more, but I still think it's a good course,” Vingegaard says, careful not to criticise any parties involved in the route planning. He’s speaking the ASO-run Tour de France Prudential Criterium, after all.
While unlikely, if there is one rider who could threaten Vingegaard’s leadership in the 2023 Tour de France, it’s his own teammate Primož Roglič. Should Jumbo-Visma see that the more experienced Slovenian rider is in better shape than Vingegaard come next July, there is a chance of competition for Jumbo-Visma’s chosen GC hopeful spot at Tour de France 2023.
This is brought up in Vingegaard’s interview, and once again, he gives little away. “We showed in the Tour that we can work really well together,” he answers. “For the Tour [this year] we had equal status, we both agreed on that and we did a good job.”
The 25-year-old’s answers come nowhere close to the scoop that journalists are searching for, and he doesn’t show much emotion in any of his responses. The truth is, as Vingegaard sits there, under the lights, under the pressure, dodging the questions, he is unequivocally calm, like a rider who is so used to the spotlight he could well have won five Grand Tours by now. It may not give the media who speak to him much to write about, but when it comes to winning another Tour de France, could this be the key to his success?
Chris Froome at the 2022 Tour de France (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
Chris Froome, a rider who has four Tour de France victories to his name, seems to think so. Speaking in Singapore, the British rider explained: “I think he's incredibly level-headed. He's very mature for his age. He sees things as they are. I don't think he's got carried away with the hype of winning the Tour. Even though I think a lot of people have wanted him to do more, he's doing everything right from what I can see.”
“He's got a handle on himself. I think he's already thinking about next year and that's 100% the way you need to be if you're going to go and win more than one Tour de France,” he says.
With Vingegaard’s laid back, reserved demeanour, it is hard to imagine him in a leadership role, instructing a team of riders who likely have more years of experience in the peloton than he does. “I think winning the Tour de France now puts him into that bracket where he is naturally expected to be a leader, but those qualities will be developed over time,” Froome says. “He's going to have to be a good communicator to let the team know what he needs at certain times, but I'm pretty sure he's got all those things handled here. He seems to be very well balanced in that sense. I'm sure it's going to be a target for him again next year to try and defend his yellow jersey.”
Whether Froome is right in his prediction remains to be seen, but going by the attitude of the 2022 Tour de France winner, it seems like one thing that is not going to get on top of Vingegaard is the pressure and attention from those around him.
“It’s all part of it,” Vingegaard says. “That’s just how it is, I’m not getting annoyed about it. I’m not searching for [the spotlight], but it’s not like I don’t like it. For me, I would also be happy if I had a life not being known by anyone, but this is how it is. It’s not like I love to do it, but it’s part of it.”