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Tour de France - Cycling: The review

After three weeks of sensational racing, the 109th Tour de France concluded on Sunday with Jonas Vingegaard deservedly wearing yellow on the podium in Paris.

The Dane's victory, which he is 4/5 to repeat next year, was built on a pair of decisive attacks in the mountains, both of which brought him stage victories. The first came on stage 11 as he dropped Tadej Pogacar to conquer the Col du Granon before repeating the feat eight days later on stage 18 to take the Hautacam climb.

Vingegaard's yellow was one of three jerseys won by his Jumbo-Visma team, as he himself took the polka-dots for the mountain classification, while Wout van Aert again demonstrated his versatility to take green.

There was consolation for the double-defending champion Pogacar, as he claimed the white jersey for the best-ranked young rider and he'll already be looking to 2023 and a shot at revenge.

Vingegaard's win sets up mouthwatering rivalry

After upsetting his fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to take the 2020 Tour, Pogacar's dominance in 2021 provoked fears that he was set to cast an unbreakable spell over La Grande Boucle that would only be broken once he decided to step away.

Having crashed out last year, Roglic, 6/1 to win the Tour in 2023, was expected to be his biggest rival in 2022 but luck was again against him. However, even before his early exit, Vingegaard, who was second 12 months ago, looked the man for Jumbo-Visma to get behind.

The 25-year-old finished five minutes and 20 seconds behind Pogacar last year but turned the tables to take the victory by two minutes and 43 seconds.

Pogacar, 7/4 for victory in 2023, may have won three stages in 2022 but lacked his previous punch, while his UAE Team Emirates colleagues also fell short at times.

Even so, with Ineos Grenadiers' Geraint Thomas third, a full seven minutes and 22 seconds behind Vingegaard, it was clear that the best two riders were battling it out for yellow.

With Pogacar 23 and Vingegaard just two years older, the pair are yet to reach their respective peaks. Therefore we can expect many more similarly fascinating duels over the coming years.

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What now for Wout?

While Vingegaard and Pogacar dominated the general classification, Van Aert enjoyed a similar stranglehold on the points classification, winning the battle for green by a full 194 points from Jasper Philipsen.

The Belgian won three stages overall, each of them in a different discipline. His first on stage four was a solo break to Calais before he won a medium mountain day on stage eight. Last but not least, Van Aert took out the penultimate day's time-trial for the second straight year.

Having also performed as a key domestique for Vingegaard in the final week, Van Aert showed he can compete in the high mountains and questions are starting to be raised as to whether he himself may begin to have aspirations towards challenging for the GC.

The 27-year-old will need to temper his attacking instincts, traits that won him the Combativity award at the Tour and he may have to concentrate on losing some of the weight that allows him to generate so much of his explosive power.

Vingegaard's presence means he is unlikely to be a protected rider at the Tour in 2023, while his price of 33/1 in the betting shows how much ground he needs to make up.

Instead, a shot at the slightly gentler Vuelta a Espana might be his goal, although it would be something he'd need to commit to fully. With Wout already so wonderful, would he be ready to potentially sacrifice a year of his career to get himself leadership-ready?

Philipsen the fastest of the quick men

It has been a brutal Tour for the sprinters, with Van Aert's presence making winning the green jersey a long shot from the outset, while there were also limited opportunities to be set up for late dashes.

Both Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team's Fabio Jakobsen and Team BikeExchange–Jayco's Dylan Groenewegen scored in the opening three days but failed to double their tally.

In fact, only one of the sprinters managed two victories, and that was Alpecin–Deceuninck's Philipsen.

Some early near misses meant the pressure was on the Belgian but he broke his duck on stage 15 before winning Sunday's closing sprint in Paris.

The dash along the Champs-Elysees is seen as the unofficial sprinters' world championships and was a fair result as the 24-year-old broke from the pack to take his own route to the line.

Riding his second Tour, Philipsen appeared to get stronger as the race went on and Sunday's victory suggests he is the quickest of the current crop of speedsters.

The future's bright

At 36, Thomas' ride was remarkable, with him, in cycling terms, a generation older than Vingegaard and Pogacar. He himself has even admitted that he can no longer match those at the very top of the sport.

The peloton seems to be getting younger all the time and there could be two new fresh faces in the Tour field in 2023.

Bora–Hansgrohe's Giro d'Italia champion Jai Hindley is 26 and 25/1 to add the maillot jaune to his maglia rosa, while Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team's Remco Evenepoel.

The Belgian is set to make his Grand Tour return at the upcoming Vuelta, having failed to finish the Giro in 2021. His career has been structured to ensure that when he does make his Tour debut, he is ready and at 20/1. 2023 looks set to be his year.

At 22, Evenepoel's best years are ahead of him and his attacking instincts will only add to the drama.

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