Mathieu Van der Poel wins the yellow jersey with a stage victory in the Tour de France
Posted On June 27, 2021
Mathieu Van der Poel took on the yellow jersey his beloved grandfather could never win as he propelled the Mur-de-Bretagne to a touching stage victory in the Tour de France.
While Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic strengthened their position as the main contenders to wear yellow in Paris – and Geraint Thomas lost time – it was Van der Poel who took the leader’s jersey off Julian Alaphilippe’s shoulders.
The Dutchman, grandson of the late Raymond Poulidor, executed the plan to perfection using the first of two climbs on the climb to earn bonus seconds, then ran flawlessly in the final 700 meters of the stage for an invaluable victory.
Poulidor, who died in 2019 at the age of 83, finished third overall in the Tour three times and third five times during the 1960s and 70s – a time dominated by Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx – who failed has never worn the yellow jersey, but his grandson pulled it off on his second day of racing only.
The Tour rookie rolled his eyes as he crossed the line, then broke down in tears as his achievement fell apart.
“I have no words, I don’t know what to say,” said the 26-year-old.
“I played a bit, I played everything I got because I knew I needed the bonus seconds if I wanted the jersey; it was also my last chance to get the yellow jersey, it’s amazing.
“(I think of) my grandfather, of course.”
Van der Poel now leads Alaphilippe to eight seconds as defending champions Pogacar and Roglic settled into third and fourth places, five and six seconds away respectively.
The Slovenian duo finished second and third on the stage, the same order in which they had spent the first set of bonus seconds behind Van der Poel.
Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers team had controlled the peloton on the final climb at the end of the 183.5 km stage from Perros-Guirec, but the Welshman couldn’t capitalize as he was left behind on the climb.
While his teammate Richard Carapaz was part of a group that finished eight seconds behind Van der Poel, Thomas was 23 seconds behind.
This means that Carapaz is now the lead Ineos driver, 18th at 31 seconds, while Thomas is 20th overall, 10 seconds more.
“The stage was complicated,” said Carapaz.
“The final was pretty nervous and a lot of people wanted to try to attack. For us the team was there and they did an amazing job right up to the finish.
“Richie Porte’s sweater was amazing to put us in a good position. It’s a bit of a shame that G lost a few seconds but we are still in the fight and there is a lot to come. We will see little by little, day after day. “
As police launched a search for the ventilator responsible for the first of Saturday’s two huge crashes, the peloton still counted the cost of a day of bruising.
Marc Soler did not take the start while several others were heavily bandaged at the exit of Perros-Guirec.
Chris Froome, caught in a second major pile-up on Saturday, started on Sunday but returned home more than 11 minutes late – admitting he has to fight daily to survive.
With a sprint expected in Pontivy on Monday, it was notable to see Mark Cavendish try his hand at the intermediate sprint on Sunday.
A group finish should ensure Van der Poel keeps the jersey for another day – perhaps at least until Wednesday’s time trial.
After the presentations on the podium, the Alpecin-Fenix rider was able to give some more thoughtful thoughts on a day that he will never forget.
“The last 500 meters were really painful,” he said. “I knew I had to keep going as fast as possible and just get to the finish line. I didn’t know until five minutes later that I had the yellow jersey, it’s incredible.
“It means the world has this jersey on my shoulders. Unfortunately he is no longer there but I imagine how proud my grandfather would be. “