Once upon a time, Jonas Vingegaard was Ricky Cousins

Maybe all the stiff Dane is missing is a relatable haircut.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 20.07.2023 Photography by
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While Jonas Vingegaard will likely walk away from this Tour de France with a second yellow jersey after vanquishing Tadej Pogačar once again, there is one thing that the Dane has yet to win over: the hearts and minds of the greater cycling public.

Sure, Danish people and Jumbo-Visma fans are likely enamoured of their humbled GC leader from another planet, but what he has in watts and aerodynamicity, he unfortunately quite clearly lacks in vibes.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem; the increased professionalisation of the sport incentivises the most dedicated riders, who are truly focused on the sole goal of riding fast and living like monks in order to make that happen. It is no wonder with all of this stress and lack of stimuli and vices that they may not be the most effusive public personas.

However, then Tadej Pogačar came out of his shell and became the shitposting meme-lord the cycling world knows and loves. If he’s not teaching teammate Mikkel Bjerg how to properly pronounce ‘croissant’, he’s backflipping into swimming pools or captioning photos of him and Vingegaard duking it out on tough climbs moments after the finish line pretending they’re setting off on a coffee ride.

This only accentuates Vingegaard’s lack of love for the camera and the spotlight. It makes him out to be a wallflower when really he’s probably just a regular dude trying to race his bike.

But that was before we found out he used to look like this:

Sure, it doesn’t seem to be a proper mullet, but it’s giving mullet energy.

Goodbye Jonas Vingegaard, hello Ricky Cousins! Or what we imagine he would be called if he was an American race car driver from Nashville. Or maybe a big-wave surfer from California who got a DUI aged 17 but has since put down the booze and instead honed his ocean-based craft. He could also be a gas station attendant called Gus who on his break chugs darts in one go while never looking up from his phone. There are many potential life choices for Ricky/Gus and a whole bunch of unintended consequences that follow on from those decisions.

However, while Vingegaard stuck to the ‘if you ain’t first, you’re last’ mantra of his imaginary NASCAR counterpart, he instead cut the golden locks, moved on to ColoQuick and then Jumbo-Visma, adopting a no-nonsense, Lego-man haircut that is efficient and fine and ordinary. So ordinary, that any other haircut makes you stop for a minute and think, yep, there’s something about this kid.

Morton B, who posted the photo in question, told us that he found it on Google. After some digging, we found it on the Danish cycling news website, credited to a, whose url doesn’t work anymore.

There’s an ease to Vingegaard in the photo. The hair, scraped back by the hat, spilling out of the back down to his neck, sends a message. While he may lose a few watts due to the style, everyone would likely relish a closer Tour de France than one eventually separated by more than seven minutes. Long-haired-Jonas does not get rattled. He is simply too laid back to care.

It would appear that the photo is taken before signing for ColoQuick in May 2016, seeing as the first article it seems to appear in is one announcing his signing with the Continental-level outfit.

We would assume it is a photo of the the then 19-year-old on the podium following his victory at the Pentecost Cup where he truly announced himself on Danish scene, winning in the race where the riders ascend the legendary climb Pøt Mølle several times.

The photo is a wonderful sight, not just because older photo of Vingegaard are hard to come by, and he is a private person, but it shows that at one point in time he wouldn’t have looked out of place singing along to Lynyrd Skynyrd in a bar with too many people wearing leather jackets or flannel shirts.

What’s even better, is that @CyclingCoeliac has gone one better, and added a beard too, for when Vingegaard retires from the road and hits the gravel circuit.

Kate Wagner contributed reporting. Specifically, providing the name Ricky Cousins of young Jonas Vingegaard.

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