"I'm gone," he told his team. "I'm dead."
This moment became an astonishing and iconic television footage that will likely be revisited for years to come in Tour de France broadcasts. Despite most of Pogacar's teammates not waiting or attempting to assist him, the reality was evident – his race was slipping away. The usually unbothered and smiling 24-year-old Slovenian cyclist was left far behind as Vingegaard surged to claim his second consecutive Tour victory.
The Tour de France concluded with shots of the Eiffel Tower and a thrilling sprint down the Champs-Élysées. While several noteworthy stories unfolded during the three-week race, the spotlight remained on Pogacar and Vingegaard. The critical 17th stage and the significant gap between the two riders, the largest winning margin since 2014, belied the tense and exciting race that had unfolded until then.
The Tour's unique cadence, with challenging mountain stages dispersed throughout the race, led to fierce battles between Pogacar and Vingegaard, reminiscent of heavyweight fighters exchanging blows. Vingegaard's initial surge in the Pyrenees on the Col de Marie Blanque raised questions about Pogacar's ability to compete, primarily due to a wrist injury he had sustained before the tour.
However, Pogacar showcased his tenacity and explosive riding style, gradually closing the gap between him and Vingegaard during subsequent stages. Despite gaining time several times, Pogacar needed help to overcome Vingegaard's strength on long mountain climbs fully.
Vingegaard's dominance was further demonstrated in the individual time trial, where he significantly excelled and extended his lead over Pogacar. As the race approached the Alps, Pogacar's fatigue became evident, and on the Col de la Loze, he struggled to keep up with Vingegaard, leading to a substantial time gap.
Ultimately, Vingegaard emerged, securing his place alongside Pogacar as a dominant force in the Tour de France. Both young riders had displayed incredible talent, and their rivalry promised thrilling battles in future races. The only regret was that fans would have to wait another year to witness the next chapter of the tour.