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Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard wins Tour de France to cap sizzling rise

Jonas Vingegaard celebrates after winning the Tour de France. (Christian Hartmann/Reuters)

Jonas Vingegaard completed an improbable run to a Tour de France victory Sunday only three years after he turned professional, with the 25-year-old Danish rider soaking in the atmosphere along the Champs-Élysées in Paris to close the 21st and final stage.

Competing in the Tour de France for just the second time, Vingegaard secured the triumph after claiming such a comfortable margin in the mountains that no other rider was able to make up enough ground before the traditional celebratory closing day.

Vingegaard’s winning time was 79 hours 33 minutes 20 seconds. Slovenia’s Tadej Pogacar took second place, 2 minutes 43 seconds back, and Geraint Thomas of Britain was third, 7:22 back.

Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen captured the final stage for his second stage win by several bike lengths. Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands placed second in the sprint ahead of third-place Alexander Kristoff from Norway.

Vingegaard placed second in Saturday’s time trial behind Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert to take a 3-minute 34-second lead into the final day. His time, however, left him so far in front of his closest pursuers that shortly after finishing he was able to begin his coronation by embracing his partner, Trine Hansen, and their 2-year-old daughter, Frida.

He did it again Sunday almost immediately after he crossed the line.

“Having my two girls on the finish line means even more to me,” he told reporters Saturday. “I’m just so happy and proud.”

As Europe’s heat wave melts roads, Tour de France races into an uncertain future

Among the closest challengers to Vingegaard was Pogacar, who was seeking a third consecutive victory. He had been chasing Vingegaard, the runner-up in last year’s Tour de France, since the Dane took the yellow jersey from him in the Alps.

Vingegaard surged last year after Jumbo-Visma’s No. 1 rider, Primoz Roglic, dropped out following a crash. His performance on the heels of Roglic’s departure featured one of the fastest times on the Mont Ventoux climb.

Vingegaard’s storybook finish is all the more compelling given that three years ago he was working part time in a packing plant in Denmark, gutting and cleaning fish. He also was employed at a fish auction, often waking well before sunrise and laboring in frigid temperatures.

Van Aert finished this year’s Tour de France wearing the green jersey, given to the best sprinter. Van Aert won three stages while assisting his teammate during the rugged Hautacam climb in Stage 18, breaking away and controlling the pace.

Pogacar was unable to stay attached and eventually faded as Vingegaard and van Aert continued to climb, keeping the Jumbo-Visma team well ahead in winning its sixth of 20 stages.

“I think the battle between me and Jonas was really something special and Jonas was really something special,” said Pogacar, 23. “It’s going to be an interesting couple of years ahead for us.”

The festivities also featured the return of women to the world’s most viewed in-person sports spectacle. The Tour de France Femmes began Sunday with 24 teams of six riders vying for the title in the eight-day, 640-mile stage race ending in the Vosges Mountains, marking the fifth time in the 119 years of the Tour de France with female competitors.