Mathieu Van der Poel won Stage 2 of the Tour de France on Sunday to claim the overall leader’s yellow jersey and strike a blow for his famous cycling family.
The Dutch 25-year-old is the grandson of French cycling icon — the late Raymond Poulidor — who was a regular on the Tour de France podium and beloved of French fans despite never wearing the fabled yellow jersey.
On his first Tour de France, Van der Poel dropped to the Tarmac gasping for breath before weeping with his hands covering his face as the weight of Poulidor’s historic legacy was settled on two dramatic ascents of the same Brittany hill, the Mur-de-Bretagne.
“Imagine how he’d feel, he’s not here,” said van der Poel of Poulidor who died in 2019 at the age of 83. “This was my last chance on the Tour to do it, it’s so good.”
French fans saw their own hero Julian Alaphilippe lose the yellow jersey, but cheered the Dutchman both for his gung-ho passion and for his beloved grandfather.
Van der Poel won a maximum of 18 bonus seconds for crossing the summit in the lead twice, and then winning by a clear margin after accelerating away from a chasing clutch of elite road racers.
UAE Team Emirates’ defending champion Tadej Pogacar was second followed by Primoz Roglic, while Alaphilippe was fifth at eight seconds.
Stage 2 passed off in relative calm after two spectacular falls on stage one sparked a police investigation into the roadside spectator that caused a domino-effect pile up.
General classification standings
1 Mathieu Van Der Poel, Alpecin-Fenix 08:57.25
2 Julian Alaphilippe Deceuninck-Quick-Step + 8s
3 Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates +13s
4 Primoz Roglic Jumbo-Visma +14s
5 Wilco Kelderman Bora-Hansgrohe +24s
6 Jack Haig Bahrain Victorious +26s
7 Bauke Mollema Trek-Segafredo +26s
8 Sergio Andres Higuita EF Education-Nippo +26s
9 Jonas Vingegaard Jumbo-Visma +26s
10 David Gauda Groupama-FDJ +26s