Saturday, July 13, 2024

Jasper Philipsen sprints to first stage victory of this year’s Tour de France

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Jasper Philipsen put the frustrations of a difficult opening week behind him as he sprinted to victory on stage 10 of the Tour de France.

In the opening nine stages of this Tour, Philipsen had two second places and was relegated from another for deviating from his line, but it all came together in Saint-Amand-Montrond as he comfortably beat Biniam Girmay and Pascal Ackermann to the line.

Sir Mark Cavendish, a winner on a similar finish here back in 2013, found himself out of position in the final kilometres and was unable to contest the sprint.

Instead the celebrations belonged to Philipsen and his Alpecin-Deceuninck squad, who felt they had a point to prove after watching rivals Girmay, Cavendish and Dylan Groenewegen prosper in the opening week.

“I think you can say (it is relief),” Philipsen said. “Last week was not a great week for us with some bad luck of course. It is a big relief, we can finally show our strength together with the lead-out train. We did finally what we came for and we could line it up, a perfect job from the team.

“I think everybody has been growing in this Tour. Maybe we didn’t start in our very best shape, but we all feel healthy, we feel good and we’re happy we can start the second week with a win.

“It was a tough week, it’s already stage 10 and there have been five sprints without a win so finally today we can do what we came for. The team kept believing and everybody deserved a win.”

Cycling Tour de France
The peloton had been alert to the threat of crosswinds on the exposed roads of this stage (Daniel Cole/AP)

The sprint finish meant no changes at the top of the general classification, with Tadej Pogacar leading by 33 seconds from Remco Evenepoel, and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard 75 seconds down before Wednesday’s return to the mountains and a stage to the ski resort of Le Lioran.

Philipsen’s Alpecin-Deceuninck team were among the few to hold their lead-out train together in a scappy finish to the 187km stage from Orleans as they negotiated a twisty finale through town.

Philipsen had faced criticism in the opening week for some of his tactics in the sprints – and the deviation that saw him relegated from second place on stage six in Dijon.

But this time world champion Mathieu van der Poel delivered the perfect lead-out to put the Belgian in position to deliver victory.

Cycling Tour de France
The sprint finish meant no changes at the top of the general classification, with Tadej Pogacar retaining the yellow jersey (Daniel Cole/AP)

Cavendish, looking to double up after his record-breaking 35th career Tour stage win last week, had been on the wheels of his Astana-Qazaqstan team-mates but they lost ground on a roundabout five kilometres from the line and were then split up.

Eleven years ago, the Manxman triumphed from a much-reduced sprint on this finish after crosswinds had split the peloton.

There was the risk of splits again on the exposed roads of central France, but this time the teams were more alert to the danger.

Speeds were above 70kmh as they came out of the Sologne forest and into the danger zone with around 60km to go, but no splits developed and the pack came to Saint-Amand-Montrond as one.

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