Pretenders eye dethroning Vingegaard. Danish cyclist already being targeted by rivals for next year's Tour de France.

Paris : As the dust settles on the 2022 Tour de France, where champion Jonas Vingegaard's Dutch team Jumbo-Visma delivered a collective masterpiece, their defeat rivals are already plotting revenge for 2023.

The Tour rolled into Paris with Vingegaard at its head, while his teammate Wout van Aert had the green sprint jersey and the pair proved relentless as they were ruthless.

Van Aert came second on all of the first three stages before eventually notching up the first of his own three stage wins.

Vingegaard, runner-up in 2021, chased two-time defending champion and early leader Tadej Pogacar over the first 11 stages before taking the lead in dramatic style in the Alps.

Pogacar said Saturday, after his last chance had gone in the long 20th-stage time-trial, he was already looking at the  next year.

''It's going to be an interesting couple of years. I like a challenge, and Junas is just that,'' said the 23-year-old.

''We made a few mistakes and racing comes down to small details so I'm really motivated. I can't wait for the next race and the next Tour de France. But first we will go away and analyse this. I'm looking forward to new challenges.''

Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates are interested in signing Colombian veteran Nairo Quintana, after realising their younger leader, while being a pure climber, perhaps struggles in the high altitude.

That was evident on stage 11 when the Tour climbed to 2,600 m and Vingegaard seized the leader's yellow jersey. The next Tour de France starts with three stages in Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain, beginning with a long individual time-trial and two stages with rolling terrain.

The organisers will reveal the rest of the route on October 27.

There is a chance of the Tour going to the Pyrenees before the Alps.

One man who loves the mountains is Egan Bernal of the Ineos, who could have been a rival to Pogacar and Vingegaard, but suffered a horrific crash in training in January and is recovering from what were initially thought to be life-threatening injuries.

His team had more bad luck at the 2022 Tour as stand-in co-leaders Adam Yates and Dani Martinezfared poorly, with only the veteran Geraint Thomas saving face with a rousing third-placed finish.

''We won't be signing anybody,'' said the 2018 winner Thomas. ''Dani got sick or we'd have done better.

''Next year we need to come back with a stronger collective, and maybe a younger one.''

Jumbo's motto is ''Masterpiece'' and this Tour de France delivered six stage wins, the title, the sprint jersey and the mountain jersey. They will have a target on their backs when the race returns next year, but Vingegaard is determined to hold off all-comers again.

'' I want to celebrate this victory first but of course I want to come back to the Tour to win another one,'' he said.

''But I didn't set myself five Tours de France or anything like that. I just want to come back and win.'' [AFP]


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