Van der Poel himself stayed out of trouble on stage three, leading his Alpecin-Fenix teammate Tim Merlier in the last kilometer to victory, the second for the German team in as many days, while Jasper Philipsen was second and Van der Poel himself has yellow jersey.But behind him and Merlier and a dozen runners lucky enough to escape the crashes that ravaged Monday’s race on sight of the line, Van der Poel admitted that it had been a “very dangerous and very eventful stage”, which is occurred after the first stage. two large pilings, as well as a series of other minor crashes.
As for what could at least help this situation, Van der Poel also cautiously approved a proposal made by Tim Declerq of Deceuninck-QuickStep before the start of the stage, to neutralize the lap times in the general classification eight kilometers from the line. .
“For sure it’s something special to wear the yellow jersey in this country, it’s a big deal and I’m really happy with the way the day went,” said Van der Poel about his feelings of being at the head of the Tour de France. and then noted the situation with the accidents. “Of course it was very dangerous, very hectic and we can be happy once again [we] didn’t crash because a lot of guys fell.
“I did the lead-out for Tim [Merlier], and also I knew that I had to stay in the group rather than back down, because Julian Alapahilippe [Deceuninck-QuickStep, second overall] was up there, so I had to stay there, and it was difficult for me.
The outspoken director of Groupama-FDJ Marc Madiot was furious after the arrival of what he considered to be the excessive dangers of the stage, saying that such situations could not continue and that it was the kind of scenario that would deter parents from letting their children participate in bicycle races.
When asked if he agrees with Madiot and what could be causing so many falls, Van der Poel answered the second part of the question by saying, “It’s a bit all. It’s the biggest race for sure, everyone is nervous, you have guys from the general classification fighting against sprinting teams. Of course, the last 10 kilometers were a bit quick and lengthened, but you also see some big crashes on straight roads. It’s a dangerous sport for sure, if you see how many guys fell today it’s dangerous.
As for Declerq’s pre-stage idea of stopping the clock for the GC eight kilometers from the finish, Van der Poel gave a balanced response, saying: “I don’t think that’s a bad idea, it was a very fast technical descent to the finish line, and I knew there would be problems [when] The guys from the GC are starting to fight against the sprinter teams.
“It’s always something that I find difficult to measure, it’s easier if you don’t have to do it the last eight kilometers, maybe it would have saved some riders a lot of trouble.
However, later he pointed out that the “eight kilometer” rule would also have its limits. When asked what the possible solutions to the dangers of sport might be, he said he didn’t know yet.
“It’s always difficult to have an opinion and we have already had a lot of finals where riders have fallen. Maybe if the eight kilometer mark was there “- for neutralization times -” then that would be different, but of course you move the problem up to the eight kilometer mark, “said Van der Poel.
“We’re running on open roads that we don’t always know, or what’s to come, and the speed is so high these days it can be dangerous. “
For Van der Poel himself, the past 24 hours have been an emotional roller coaster. After taking the yellow jersey on Sunday to honor his grandfather, Raymond Poulidor – who has never been at the head of the Tour in his brilliant career – Monday was his first day wearing the yellow jersey on the roads of France itself.
Regarding what he remembered the most from the last 24 hours, he said, “It’s difficult. I have a lot of things to come, but I think the most emotional moment was when I had my phone and saw a lot of photos of my grandfather. I think this was maybe the most difficult time of the day for me.
Tomorrow, despite the incidents, should not be such a problem to stay in yellow. But when it comes to his own chances of staying in the yellow jersey in the upcoming time trial and if they were now better after the falls and delays of riders like Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), Van der Poel replied that he did not had not yet looked at the overall ranking.
“The only name that comes to mind is [Wout] Van Aert [Jumbo-Visma] “- (fourth overall, Editor’s note)” I think he’s still close and one of the guys who can take the jersey away from me in the TT. “
Returning to his own strategy on stage three, Van der Poel said he rode in the lead in the final kilometers for two reasons, “to avoid trouble and to pay the team back.
“It was a very eventful final and I didn’t want to be caught in crashes. I also wanted to do my teammates a favor, and the guys who ride for me know I love doing that. So I did my best with that today.
And on a massively loaded second stage, on both counts – both for the yellow and the stage – that turned out to be just enough.