Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard said Saturday that he was “just not bothered” about being in the spotlight since winning the race, and believes he can defend his title next year.
The 25-year-old Dane shot to fame after his Tour de France triumph in July, with tens of thousands of people lining the streets of Copenhagen to give him a hero’s welcome.
Over 20,000 people packed into his sleepy home village of Glyngore, which normally has a population of just 1,400, to greet the rider who lives there with his wife Trine and daughter Frida.
Vingegaard subsequently skipped the Tour of Denmark and the world road race championships in Australia before returning to racing in September.
The sporting director of his club Jumbo Visma said Vingegaard had been having a “tough time” dealing with the increased attention.
Vingegaard said in Japan, where he will take part in Sunday’s Tour de France Saitama Criterium, that his new-found status was “just something you have to live with”.
“It’s my own fault, you could say — I’m the reason that there is so much attention, and if you start getting bothered about it, then it is a problem,” he said.
“I’m just not bothered about it, so for me it’s not a problem.”
Vingegaard became the first Dane to win the Tour de France since Bjarne Riis — who later admitted to doping — in 1996.
The man Vingegaard succeeded as champion, Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, won the title two years in a row and the Dane is hoping to emulate that feat.
“Of course I hope I can do it,” Vingegaard said, when asked if he can win next year’s Tour de France.
“I guess it will be harder every year but I’ll do my best and hopefully I can do it.”
Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who is also competing in Japan, believes Vingegaard is “very well positioned to go back and win the title next year”.
“I always found, for me personally, the biggest obstacle to winning a second Tour de France is your life changes after you win — it’s never the same again,” said Froome, who won the title three years in a row from 2016-18.
“But on a positive side, he’s now got the self-belief that he’s already done it, so there’s no reason why he can’t do it again.”
Vingegaard said he had enjoyed “my best season so far” and is aiming for more success in Japan on Sunday.
Also competing in Saitama, north of Tokyo, are retiring legends Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde, 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas and sprint king Mark Cavendish.
Vingegaard won last weekend’s inaugural Tour de France Singapore Criterium ahead of Froome in second and Nibali in third.
“Going into the season my big goal was to try to win the Tour de France, and I succeeded with that,” said Vingegaard.
“I think my year has been a great success so in the end I’m very happy about how everything went.”
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