'Irritation and frustration of Evenepoel and Pogacar about Vingegaard's tactics' change Tour de France for Thijs Zonneveld: "There are no more jokes and no more hugs"

The Tour de France has, in modern times, seen a new array of world-class riders who are not only extremely strong but also very popular and friendly with each other. But that may crack in this Tour, as it is very clear that after a very difficult and tactic stage 9, Jonas Vingegaard and Visma have gotten under the skin of both Tadej Pogacar and Remco Evenepoel.

"They hug each other. Give high fives. Have their picture taken together. Speak sweetly and respectfully about the others in every interview. Make jokes under each other's posts on social media. Nothing but respect, nothing but love. Sometimes they seem like best friends, the best riders in this world," Thijs Zonneveld points out in AD. "Matje and Tadje, that rascal Remco, Woutje and that crazy Primoz - and Jonas of course, when he comes down from his mountain. Sometimes it's like they all grew up together. Like they've known each other for twenty years, like they went to nursery school together and kicked a ball around on the field behind the school."

It is indeed a peloton that is more open and friendly with each other and even in interviews, very respectful and complementary of their main rivals. But that may have ended for this Tour de France, at least for the time being. After a week of racing on the defensive, Jonas Vingegaard has certainly not made any friends, and on the opposite he certainly created enemies. Specially after refusing to work with both Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogacar on separate occasions, the Dane and Team Visma | Lease a Bike have made their two rivals very irritated on a day where the trio could've potentially won minutes on all of their rivals including Primoz Roglic. Evenepoel specially, fighting for the podium, was annoyed that his good day and many efforts did not give him a single second on what was a big day.

"I secretly like to see a little friction between those few 'aliens'. A little quarrel, a simmering feud, a few digs. Hold and behold: there is a Tour," the Dutch analyst argues. "After Sunday's gravel stage, the irritation and frustration of Evenepoel and Pogacar about Vingegaard's tactics seeped through in their interviews. Pogacar sneered that Vingegaard did not ride at the front because he was afraid of him, Evenepoel insinuated that Vingegaard lacked ‘big balls’. Vingegaard in turn says, when asked if he is worried about his deficit, that he gained seven and a half minutes in two stages last year".

After stage 9 and throughout the rest day specially, there were many back-and-forth in the media between the three riders. Vingegaard responded to Evenepoel's 'no balls' comments and responded to Pogacar as well saying every rider in the Top10 is a rival - even though the Dane spent hours focusing only on the race leader's wheel. Pogacar and Vingegaard look to be entering a psychological battle, as physically the two have not seen too many gaps open in the first week, and both seem equally matched in terms of their chances of winning the race.

"You can feel it in everything. It is bubbling. It is fermenting. The gloves are off," Zonneveld adds. "The app group has fallen silent, there are no more jokes and no more hugs. They leer at each other, they get under each other's skin, they growl under their breath when they meet each other".

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