That is what makes sports activities so nice

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) didn’t have to attend. When Tadej Pogačar (UAE Workforce Emirates) crashed on the descent of the Col de Spandelles on stage 18 of the Tour, the Dane might have pushed on. There could be no disgrace in that.

They compete in bike races each downhill and uphill. Pogačar made a mistake by taking the improper line round this left-hander; a mistake that Vingegaard was below no obligation to appropriate. Sport means doing every little thing you possibly can (and inside the guidelines) to win.

All honest arguments. However there’s extra to sports activities than ruthless competitors between bitter rivals. I like seeing the very best athletes on the earth duke it out, however I additionally love the moments of humanity that shine via regardless of how intense the competitors is.

Fierce opponents go all out to beat one another earlier than having a pleasant chat on the finish of the battle (see video under). An athlete who sticks with an injured rival as a result of though they’re on the opposite group, they’re additionally the opposite particular person in want. A group that gives a competing athlete a guard of honor on the finish of their illustrious profession.

Sportsmanship.

However context issues. An elite sports activities competitors the place rivals are extra serious about being mates than beating one another wouldn’t be removed from a fascinating spectacle. We would like individuals to provide their all to win. It’s this aggressive depth that makes these sporting moments stand out.

The battle between Pogačar and Vingegaard this tour has been an almighty slugfest. Pogačar, the pre-race favorite, assaults Vingegaard time and again and once more, determined to discover a chink in his rival’s armour; was determined to reclaim the yellow jersey, so many anticipated him to win a 3rd time.

It is essentially the most aggressive GC battle we have seen on the Tour in years, and an thrilling spectacle because of this. Moments of mutual respect in and round this contest solely add to the spectacle.

However let’s not be naive: Vingegaard’s choice to attend wasn’t solely pushed by respect for Pogačar. There was arguably little to be gained from pushing on. He mentioned as a lot himself afterward: “I do not assume I wanted to assault,” he mentioned. “I feel I used to be higher at maintaining a gradual tempo.”

Pushing on would have left Vingegaard on his personal for the remainder of the descent and the brief valley highway that adopted. Sure, he had Wout van Aert on the way in which, who might have waited. However sitting as an alternative (and Pogačar and Vingegaard took it straightforward the remainder of the way in which) meant that each Sep Kuss and Tiesj Benoot had been in a position to catch up from behind, giving Vingegaard a higher numerical benefit than pushing ahead. Ready made extra tactical sense.

And in the long run, ready for Pogačar price Vingegaard nothing. The truth is, every little thing was the other way up.

He then pulled away from Pogačar in Hautacam to take the stage win and improve his general lead. He could not have identified it might occur the second Pogačar fell, however I might prefer to assume that when Pogačar picked himself up from the gravel, Vingegaard thought to himself: “I need to win this with my toes, not as a result of Pogačar has fallen”.

Not solely does Vingegaard win the Tour, however he does in order essentially the most likable champion who has proven the utmost respect for his closest rival. That is the sort of constructive PR that different Tour winners of the final decade would have killed for. This has definitely given the producers of the Netflix documentary loads of compelling human drama to work with.

I perceive the argument Vingegaard ought to have pursued. He would have been inside his rights to take action. However I am glad he did not.

I keep in mind the 2022 Tour de France for the extraordinary, weeks-long battle between two closely-opposed rivals. However I additionally keep in mind it for the respect and sportsmanship they’ve proven one another all through.

Shared smiles after a failed assault. A handshake on the finish of one other powerful stage. Hugging within the post-race warm-up space with phrases of appreciation to one another. A “thanks” handshake as one waited for the opposite to select himself up off the bottom.

Sportsmanship in fierce battle. It is a sport.

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