Vingegaard seals Tour with time trial win

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Jonas Vingegaard has had to overcome one heart-in-mouth moment in yellow before effectively sealing a dazzling Tour de France triumph.

Cycling's new great Dane finished runner-up to his colossal teammate Wout van Aert in an epic time trial battle on the 20th and penultimate stage on Saturday.

But Vingegaard had to endure one near-mishap while taking all the risks to win the stage, being forced to brake hard near the finish to avoid a crash after misjudging a curve on the technical 40.7km circuit between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour.

"I think I almost had a heart attack when that happened. Just when I thought I was not taking big risks, I made a mistake going into the corner!" Vingegaard was able to laugh later.

"In the end I saved it, I'm really happy about that."

Taking things more carefully after the scare, he finished only 19 seconds behind his Jumbo-Visma colleague van Aert, who again demonstrated amazing power and versatility by winning his third stage of a breathtaking Tour in 47:59.

It meant Vingegaard will go into the largely ceremonial final stage to Paris on Sunday 3:34 ahead of reigning champion Tadej Pogacar, who was third fastest on the stage, eight seconds adrift of the Danish leader.

"It means everything, it's really incredible. It's the biggest thing within cycling and we did it!" said 25-year-old Vingegaard, who was in tears after being greeted at the finish line by his girlfriend and daughter.

"Having my two girls on the finish line means even more to me. Since last year, I always believed I could do it and now it's happened. It's really incredible. It's both a relief and I'm just so happy and proud."

Asked about his aggressive approach, Vingegaard reflected on 2020, when teammate Primoz Roglic saw his advantage in yellow disappear on a stage 20 time trial, allowing Pogacar to nick his first title.

"Of course, I think about what happened two years ago. We all were thinking about it," he admitted.

"I wouldn't say we were afraid of it but we had it in our heads and didn't want it to happen again. I just wanted to go for it today."

Van Aert, in the jersey that identifies the Tour's top sprinter, became the first man to win a Tour time trial in green since Bernard Hinault in 1979.

The 27-year-old Belgian again looked like the cyclist who can do everything, prompting the now-familiar question of whether he could mount a challenge to one day win the race himself.

"I have answered a thousand times ... For the moment, I don't want to talk about the future," he shrugged.

Britain's Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour champion, is third in the general classification, 8:13 down on the lead but his podium place assured.

Australia's leading rider remains Team BikeExchange-Jayco's Nick Schultz, who moved up a place to 23rd overall after finishing 16th fastest on the day.

The other four Aussie survivors from the nine original starters are Michael Storer (Groupama FDJ, 37th), Chris Hamilton (Team DSM, 39th), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco, 80th) and Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal, 138th).

Sprint star Ewan may currently be bottom of the standings and set to win the 'Lanterne Rouge', the strangely much-coveted prize for being the final finisher on the Tour, but, perversely, he also still has a chance to end the race with a stage victory on the Champs-Elysees.

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