2021 Tour de France Wrap: Stage-By-Stage Guide To How The Race Unfolded
The 2021 Tour de France was one for the ages. It was a thrilling edition of the world's greatest bike race and featured it all. Aussie Ben O'Connor finished 4th overall, Mark Cavendish enjoyed a stunning comeback, Caleb Ewan tragically crashed out early, and the race featured countless highlights. Here is our stage-by-stage wrap of the 108th Tour de France.
Stage 21 - Champs Élysées, Paris
Wout van Aert has won the closing stage of the 2021 Tour de France, the Belgian all-rounder nailing the final of his three incredibly diverse stage wins of the race.
He won the double ascent of Mt Ventoux, he won Saturday's final time trial and backed up to win Sunday's final sprint on the Champs Élysées.
“This Tour has just been amazing, it has been such a roller coaster," he said. "To finish off with a win like this is beyond expectations.”
Soon to jet to Tokyo, van Aert is a favourite for Olympic gold in the road race.
“I have to catch a flight tonight (to Tokyo),” he said. “I’ve made myself some trouble with all these interviews as I have to get to the airport,” he added with a laugh.
The win dashed Mark Cavendish’s dream of winning a fifth stage of this year’s Tour and, more importantly, win number 35 which would have made him the all-time Tour stage leader.
Instead, Mark Cavendish remains on 34 tour stage wins meaning it’s highly likely he’ll be back at his signature race in 2022.
Tadej Pogacar won his second consecutive Tour with Jonas Vingegaard second and Richard Carapaz third.
Aussie Ben O’Connor finished 4th, an outstanding effort and the highest ever final placing for an Australian on Tour debut.
More to come.
Wout Wins TT
Wout van Aert of Jumbo Visma has won the final time trial of the 2021 Tour de France. The Belgian rider was the fastest in the penultimate stage TT that covered a thirty kilometre course.
The outcome of the TT didn’t change or affect the top 3, with Tadej Pogacar now on the eve of winning his second Tour. Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo Visma is second overall with Richard Carapaz of the Ineos Grenadiers in third.
West Australian Ben O’Connor remains in 4th place overall, a phenomenal feat. With Stage 21 more a processional stage into Paris for much of the peloton, O’Connor will make history as the best-placed Australian on Tour debut.
“On Friday, I felt a lot of emotion thinking about the Tour de France, and what I was doing,” said O’Connor after the stage. “Today, I am super happy. I have taken a new step forward with a team that trusted an Australian rider.”
“When I think back to what we went through the first day, where I thought I had a fractured shoulder, had stitches and was sore all over the place, and that most of the team had also crashed, I can only savor what we are going through right now.”
With grand plans for their Aussie star rider, Team AG2R Citroen have announced that after a few days off O'Connor will ride the Deutschland Tour (August 26-29). He should then participate in the Tour du Jura (September 4), the Tour du Doubs (September 5) and the Tour du Luxembourg (September 14-18).
Will Manx Missile Make History
Tonight’s final stage of the’21 Tour is shaping up to be an absolute thriller with comeback king Mark Cavendish poised to make history.
Currently level with the great Eddy Merckx on 34 stage wins, Cavendish will be endeavouring to win his 5th stage of this year’s race on the iconic Champs Élysées in Paris.
A late one for Aussie fans, the broadcast runs from 2300 to 0400 Sunday on SBS and SBS On Demand.
Bahrain Victorious Raided By Authorities
Bahrain Victorious star Matej Mohoric took his second victory at this year’s Tour de France with a strong solo win in the final stage before the closing time trial and processional Paris finish.
The victory came the day after the team's hotel was searched and investigated by French Police who also requested all training files. Mohoric's act of zipping his lips as he crossed the line - in the same fashion as Lance Armstrong in 2004 - appeared to be his way of saying the team had nothing to hide and wanted to silence critics.
"We are committed to highest level of professionalism and adherence to all regulatory requirements and will always be cooperating in a professional manner," said Team Manager Vladimir Miholjević.
"The process had impacted our riders recovery and meal planning and as a professional team, the well being of our team is a key priority.”
The 19th stage started in Mourenx and, finishing in Libourne, raced over 207 kilometres. Crossing solo, one minute ahead of the chase group, Mohoric said the key to his win was remaining calm.
"In the end, it was about following the right move, and when Pollit attacked, I countered and was able to make a gap," he said. "I was suffering in the last ten kilometres, but I just kept fighting till the finish.
"I am so happy, not just for me but the team. We had a hard couple of days, but it just brought us closer together and to keep fighting. I’m super proud of this win, this team and what we’ve achieved at this race.”
O'Connor Into 4th Overall
Ben O’Connor has moved up to 4th overall at the Tour de France with the final mountain stage complete.
25yo O’Connor, who hails from Fremantle in Western Australia, remained strong as the Top 3 was cemented on stage 18. Reigning champion Tadej Pogacar won the stage - his second in two days - with Jonas Vingegaard second and Richard Carapaz third. Pogacar added to the yellow and the white jerseys the polka dot jersey he also won in 2020.
After the stage Ben O’Connor said the third week of the Grand Tours suited his style and he was looking forward to Saturday’s individual time trial.
“I didn’t feel as good as the day before, but I managed to get through it,” he said.
“It’s a good day for me and for the AG2R Citreon team - the third week of the Grand Tours suits me well. I’m fourth in the overall standings but the gap is slim (32’’). We will see on Saturday after the time trial.”
Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish made it over the final mountain stage and now has two opportunities to win another stage. Currently level pegging with Eddie Merckx on 34 stage wins, Cavendish said he wants at least one more.
“I’ve done this climb ten times, and every time I have despised it,” he said after climbing the Tourmalet on stage 18.
“I’m grateful my teammates helped me out. I got a bit emotional because my teammates help me go through so much in this Tour de France. I’d like to try to win at least a stage … but I’d like to stay in the bunch for one day at least."
Top 5 After Stage 18
1 Tadej Pogacar
2 Joan Vingegaard +5:45
3 Richard Carapaz 5:51
4 Ben O’Connor 8:18
5 Wilco Kelderman 8:51
Pogacar Wins Queen Stage
Tadej Pogacar has again stamped his authority on the 2021 Tour and all but sealed the yellow jersey for a second consecutive year, the 22yo winning the queen stage of the race on Bastille Day. The young Slovenian out sprinted Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz and extended his overall lead to more than 7 minutes.
The big story of the day for Aussie fans was again Ben O’Connor, the West Australian climbing strongly on the brutal stage and firming up his Top 5 position.
“I felt really good today and I’m proud of my performance,” O’Connor said after the finish.
“I tried to follow Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vinegaard but it was not possible … but I did succeed in grabbing a few seconds in the general classification.
O’Connor retains 5th place overall and is just 17 seconds behind 4th place, Rigoberto Uran.
Riders hit the final mountains of the Tour tonight, a short 129km stage with uphill finish. After that it’s a flat sprint stage, final 30km TT, then the largely processional final stage into Paris.
“For tomorrow’s stage, everyone will try to do their best …,” O’Connor continued.
“Tomorrow’s stage is short and the level of the rest of us fighting for places in the general classification is pretty equal. We’ll see if it’s possible to take some time.”
In other stage highlights Mark Cavendish again managed to make the time cut, the ‘Manx Missile’ all but over this year’s uphill hurdles. Cav will have all eyes on the final two sprint opportunities where he can potentially take the all time record for stage wins.
Bling Third In Stage
Michael Matthews has gained more green jersey points and sprinted to third place at Stage 16 of the Tour de France.
Austrian champion Patrick Konrad won the tough mountain stage after a solo 35km breakaway, with combatants Sonny Colbrelli and 'Bling' Matthews battling it out for second and third.
Michael Matthews said it was a stage that suited him well. “Our plan was to go in the breakaway, and we achieved that," he said. "The plan was to get some points in the intermediate and we achieved that, but just came up short with the stage win. I started my sprint early as there was a Cofidis rider in front, so I tried to bring him back in the sprint, but Colbrelli just came past me on the line."
Discussing the green jersey, Matthews said he is closer but not close enough. "Cavendish still has two more sprint opportunities in this Tour de France," he said.
"If he wins them then that’s another 100 points so all this work I’ve been doing the last days could be all for nothing, but I am a fighter and I will fight all the way to Paris.”
Fellow Aussie Ben O'Connor retains 5th place overall.
2021 Tour de France – Stage 16
1. Patrick Konrad
2. Sonny Colbrelli
3. Michael Matthews
1. Tadej Pogacar 66:23:06
2. Rigoberto Uran +5:18
3. Jonas Vinegaard +5:32
First US Stage Win In A Decade
Seb Kuss has won a brutal Stage 15 of the Tour de France, the Jumbo Visma rider being the first American to make the podium in a decade.
“I was really suffering this Tour. Today the stage finished in my hometown and therefore I was very motivated to go for the stage win," said Kuss, who like many pro riders lives in the principality of Andorra.
"Finally I found my good legs and I could finish the job. My friend and her family stood on the final climb to cheer me on. I know the last climb a bit, but haven’t ridden it often. It’s a very tough climb. My team did a fantastic job today. Wout was ahead of me in the whole valley. If a champion like that works for me, then I have to finish it off too. I’m really happy that I won here.”
On the Aussie front, Ben O'Connor rose from 6th to 5th overall after the tough Pyraenean stage. O'Connor sits in a group of riders in the 5-minute bracket, with less than a minute separating 3rd, 4th & 5th overall.
Bauke Mollema's Solo Stage 14 Win
Trek Segafredo’s Bauke Mollema has taken out Stage 14 of the Tour, the Dutch rider claiming his second Tour de France stage win four years after his first and in similar solo breakaway style.
“When I looked to the roadbook at the beginning of the Tour, I knew this stage was a good opportunity for the breakaway, and when it goes up and down all day, and a hard climb at the end with a tricky downhill, I knew it was good for me,” said Mollema.
“A few days ago, I checked the last 50-60kms of the course on Google maps, so I knew more or less what to expect. I knew there was a tricky downhill, and after that, I was waiting for the right moment to attack. I felt good, and I knew I could do a long solo to the finish," he concluded.
Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey while Guillaume Martin moved to second overall. Aussie Ben O’Connor is sixth overall with just 40 seconds separating the 4 other top riders.
Tonight’s Stage 15 will be critical as riders tackle more than 190km through the Pyrenees. The stage features three category 1 climbs - one reaching 2400 metres and the highest point of the Tour - and finishes in Andorra.
Top 6 After Stage 14
Mark Cavendish Makes Tour History
Mark Cavendish has won his 34th Tour de France stage, the Manx Missile making history by equaling Eddie Merckx record number of stage wins at the Tour.
His 4th win of the 2021 Tour, the 36yo’s fairytale comeback was fittingly completed in the medieval town of Carcassonne.
“I was so dead, 220km in that heat …,” said a visibly exhausted Cavendish.
“I went deep, I went so deep. The boys were incredible but I was so on the limit and then I thought I’d punctured with 4 or 5km to go.”
Asked a second time what it was like to equal the greatest of all time, Cav appeared stunned and avoided the question.
“It’s like winning a stage at the Tour, it’s what I dreamed of when I was a kid,” he told Tour media, opting not to talk about equaling Eddie Merckx record.
“I’ve worked so hard for this,” concluded a dazed Cavendish prior to heading to the podium presentation.
Breakaway specialist Nils Politt of Bora-Hansgrohe emerged from a 13-man breakaway to solo to victory in Nîmes at Stage 12 of the Tour. Imanol Erviti and Aussie Harry Sweeny rounded out the podium with Tadej Pogacar retaining the yellow jersey.
Sweeny's first podium place in his first Tour de France, the Queenslander said it felt surreal to fight for the stage victory.
"I didn’t expect to be at the Tour this year, let alone to be performing at this level," he said. “I knew I was capable of doing this but tactically, it’s another thing. Maybe I made a few mistakes in the final, but I can’t be disappointed with this result. It really was a tactical game at the end and maybe I showed my strength a little bit too much. Politt saw that and took a little advantage of that. However, I have only been pro for six months, so I have to be satisfied with third place.”
Politt's First Tour Stage
27yo Politt is best known as a strong classics rider, he finished second to Philippe Gilbert in the last edition of Paris-Roubaix. Bora-Hansgrohe’s first victory at the 2021 Tour, it was a bittersweet day for the team with star ride Peter Sagan abandoning the race for the first time in his career.
"The injury I had after the first stage seemed to be getting better and better but then I hit the knee against the handlebars again two days ago in the sprint and it’s swollen," said Sagan. "I can’t bend my leg," said Sagan, who is hopeful of being race ready for the Tokyo Olympics.
Wout Wins Stage 11
Wout van Aert has won Stage 11 of the Tour, the double ascent of the legendary Mont Ventoux.
"I’m lost for words,” van Aert said, “It’s one of the most iconic climbs in world cycling. Maybe this is my best win yet."
“I know that I’m not the best climber in the peloton, but I chose my day. I first rode the Ventoux when I was ten and it was the first real climb that I did. Winning a mountain stage in the Tour is not something I would have expected a few years ago.”
A stage for the pure climbers, Wout rode away solo from a breakaway group in the second ascent to fend off Kenny Elissonde and Bauke Mollema. It was the fourth stage win for Belgian Champion van Aert at the Tour de France after three bunch sprints in Albi, Privas and Lavaur.
Despite an attack by Jonas Vingegaard 1.2km before the summit, Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey.
O'Connor In Top 5
The late attack resulted in Vinegard improving his position in the overall standings and bumped Ben O’Connor out of the Top 3.
Four riders sit together five minutes behind Pogacar - Uran at 5m 18s, Vinegard at 5m 32s, Carapaz at 5m 33s and O’Connor at 5m 50s.
Mark Cavendish retains the Green Jersey and managed to avoid the time cut, the Manx Missile saying his teammates were there to help him up and downs the mountains.
“I’m very tired - I guess everybody is,” he said. “I’ve done many Tours de France, but this for sure is one of the hardest. I spoke to [race director Christian] Prudhomme in the eve of the race and I told him how much I love this race. I’m a man of my word, so I won’t quit: I’ll keep going for as long as I can.”
Stage 12 is another for the sprinters and presents Cavendish with the opportunity for a fourth win at this year’s Tour. If so, this would be his 34th TDF stage win - equal to the all-time record held by Eddy Merckx.
Cav Wins Third Stage At '21 Tour
An elated Mark Cavendish raised his arms and howled his way over the line as he won a third stage of the 2021 Tour. It is Cavendish's 33rd stage win at the Tour and puts him one short of equaling Eddy Merckx record of 34.
“I remember buying cycling magazines when I was younger and you could find there articles on the art of sprinting stuff and how a lead-out works, and this was what we had today," Cavendish said after the win.
An old school, textbook lead-out, like you read in the magazines.
"We knew the final kilometers and were confident we had the team for the sprint. I was kept fresh throughout the entire day by the guys, who worked non-stop for me, showed an incredible commitment and made sure I was where I needed to be. All these things make me super proud to be part of this team," he said.
36yo Cavendish extended his advantage in the points classification after becoming the oldest rider to win three stages at a single edition of the Tour
“I’m so humbled by my teammates’ sublime effort and the lead-out train they provided to me," he said.
"The winner of Flanders, the World Champion, who has also worn the yellow jersey here, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner and Michael, who’s the World Madison Champion and is going to the Olympic Games to try to win there – they all left everything on the road for me. I just had to finish it off today. I didn’t really do anything, it was the team I have to thank for everything.”
Green Jersey Comp Overall Points
1: Mark Cavendish 218
2: Michael Matthews 159
3: Sonny Colbrelli 136
Ben O'Connor Second Overall
West Australian Ben O’Connor has won Stage 9 of the Tour de France, the toughest mountain stage to date and first summit finish.
Now second overall on General Classification in his debut Tour, O’Connor broke free of big name climbers including Michael Woods, Nairo Quintana and Wout Poels, despite the freezing rain and brutal climbs.
"It's been a wild ride. It's mind-blowing," 25yo O'Connor of French team AG2R Citroen said. "It is what you dream of,” he continued. “There is so much joy … I am just loving every single moment.”
“I knew on a long day like this … I can always win at the end," he said. "It was just about making sure I didn't panic."
Retirements Prior To Rest Day
In other major developments on the eve of the rest day, Matthieu van der Poel retired from the 2021 Tour saying he is focussing on the Tokyo Olympic Games.
And Primoz Roglic, last year’s runner up, pulled out of the race with ongoing issues after two major crashes earlier in the week. He said he’ll also now focus on the Olympics.
Top 5 Overall After Stage 9
|1||Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates||34:11:10|
|2||Ben O'Connor AG2R Citroën Team||0:02:01|
|3||Rigoberto Uran EF Education-Nippo||0:05:18|
|4||Jonas Vingegaard Jumbo-Visma||0:05:32|
|5||Richard Carapaz Ineos Grenadiers||0:05:33|
Stage 8 - The Pog In Yellow
Tadej Pogacar has made one of the most impressive, long range attacks of the modern era, the 22yo going solo, passing rider after rider, and powering uphill through the rain for the yellow jersey.
The reigning Tour champion boldly began his attack 30km from the finish. Richard Carapaz was able to follow for a short time before Pogacar showed his superior ability.
“The race proved to be very tough from the start, with cyclists attacking from all sides,” he said.
“But I was fine and I was able to benefit from the rainy conditions that I like: so I decided that I would attack and so, when there were still three climbs left, I asked the team to work at the front to set up my attack.”
Pogacar went on to finish the stage in 4th place behind Ion Izagirre, Michael Woods and stage winner Dylan Teuns. On his way he picked off and sailed past rider after rider - some of the world’s best climbers. There was respect, awe and a degree astonishment over Pogacar’s ability.
“I started very far from the finish line because I saw that all the opponents were in trouble … because of the cold weather so I thought it was a good time to go.
“Today’s result makes me happy, even more when I think back to the work my team did in yesterday’s stage.
“Now we are in the yellow and day after day we will show that we are ready to defend the leadership, because we are a very strong team ”.
Sunday’s stage will see riders complete the first summit finish, the 144.9 km course starting from Cluses and arriving in Tignes after the final ascent of the Category 1 Montée de Tignes.
General classification after Stage 8
1. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) 29h38’25
2. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) + 1’48
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) 4’38
Stage 7 - The Longest Day
It was the longest stage of the Tour de France in 21 years, the 249.1km route including five categorised climbs and ultimately seeing a stunning solo success.
Matej Mohoric of Bahrain Victorious won his first Tour de France stage and has now won a stage in every Grand Tour. The 26yo Slovenian (we know right!), also moved into the polka-dot jersey, was awarded the most combative rider and is now in the overall Top 10.
“It’s unbelievable! My legs were screaming in the last 20 kilometres, but I didn’t listen to them,” said Mohoric.
“This was my best victory because firstly it’s Tour de France, the biggest race in the world. Secondly, I did it through the breakaway, beating some of the best riders. I was fighting for the polka-dot jersey today and took the five points, and then I was hoping they would look at each other, allowing me to win the stage. And to do this wearing my national championship jersey is even more special for me.”
Stage 7 also led to big changes in the overall Top 10. The General Classification after Stage 7 is -
1: Matthieu van der Poel 25:39:17
2: Woet Van Aert +:30
3: Kasper Asgreen 1:49
4: Matej Mohoric 3:01
5: Tadej Pogacar 3:43
6: Vincenzo Nibali 4:12
7: Julian Alaphillipe 4:23
8: Alexey Lutensko 4:56
9: Pierre Latour 5:03
10: Rigoberto Uran 5:05
Stage 6 - Cavendish's Second Stage Win For 2021
Mark Cavendish’s fairytale comeback has continued - the Manx Missile has won a second stage of the 2021 Tour de France.
His 32nd stage win at Le Tour, and 50th in a Grand Tour, the victory brings Cavendish a step closer to Eddie Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins.
“So many people didn’t believe in me, but these guys do,” the 36yo said of his Deceuninck Quickstep teammates, including World Champion Julian Alaphillipe who powered the leadout.
“I’m not thinking about anything, I’ve just won a stage of the Tour de France. If that was my first stage or my 32nd, that’s what people work their whole lives for,”
Completing a hat trick of wins at the finish town of Chateauroux, Cavendish enjoyed his first-ever Tour de France victory there in 2008. He won again there 10-years ago in 2011, and completed the three decade triumvirate in July 2021.
With both hands placed on his head, just like those previous wins in Châteauroux, Cavendish crossed the line a bike-length ahead of the other sprinters.
“The finale was full gas, reminiscent of the one ten years ago, when we went so fast in the last ten kilometers that almost I was at the limit,” he said.
“The wind was coming from the right and I was on the left side, so I waited for a split second longer in the wheels before opening my sprint. To win again at the Tour, where there’s an incredible group of sprinters, is just beautiful and I am super happy”, he added.
Cavendish concluded by saying a teammate asked after the stage if he is in the form of his life?
“The truth is that I’m in the team of my life,” he replied.
Stage 5 - The First TT
He won the 2020 Tour with a faultless TT performance, and on Stage 5 of this year's race Tadej Pogacar again showed why he's the top favourite for the 2021 title.
"Today was a really good day for me, I didn’t do any mistakes," the 22yo Slovenian said after posting the best time and winning the Stage 5 TT.
"It was a perfect weather for me. Some guys hate wet roads, luckily I had the perfect conditions. In recent time trials I didn’t do so well because I started super fast. This time I started pacing myself pretty good and found the perfect rhythm until the end. The goal was not to lose time. I’m super happy. Maybe it’s better not to take the yellow jersey - I would have loved to have the yellow jersey but the white looks good too."
Aussies Lucas Hamilton and Richie Porte lost a small amount of time in the TT, the riders now close together at 3min 58 and 3min 59 off the lead.
Stage 6 is another for the sprinters, with the finish town of Châteauroux being the place Mark Cavendish won his first Tour stage in 2008. Can he do it again to make it 32? The live telecast begins at 9:30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.
Top 10 After Stage 5
|1||Mathieu van der Poel||16:51:41|
|3||Wout Van Aert||0:00:30|
'Sign Lady' Located & Arrested
In other developments in France, the roadside spectator who held a sign in front of the field on Stage 1 and caused a major crash has been located.
European press report the woman has been arrested after handing herself in several days after fleeing the scene of the Stage 1 crash.
Tour organisers stated they will pursue the spectator, with deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault stating "We are suing this woman who behaved so badly. We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone."
Stage 4 - Cavendish's Return
Sprint legend Mark Cavendish has won Stage 4 of the 2021 Tour de France, the 36yo enjoying his first Tour win in 5 years and the 31st of his career.
“I’m in shock, even more than when I got word that I would do Le Tour this year,” said Cav after the win, as a month ago the ‘Manx Missile’ wasn’t expecting to be racing his signature event.
“Just being here is special, because I didn’t think for one moment I would come back to this beautiful race that I love so much,” he continued. “I’m in complete disbelief, I don’t know what to say. So many people didn’t believe in me, but these guys did and continued to do it”, said an emotional Cavendish.
Winning by a bike length, he crossed the line ahead of Nacer Bouhani of Team Arkea Samsic and Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin Fenix. Australia’s Michael Matthews finished 4th with former three-time World Champion Peter Sagan fifth.
Mark Cavendish now leads the Green Jersey competition with 89 points. Behind him is Julian Alphilippe on 82 and Michael Matthews on 78.
Stage 3 Marred By Crashes & Loss Of Top Riders
Riders, commentators and long-time fans have hit out at Tour de France organisers after numerous crashes again marred the 2021 edition of the race.
With the opening stages being raced in Brittany, many are saying the region’s roads and chosen parcourse is dangerously narrow for the 180 riders racing the world’s premier cycling event.
Stage 3 was defined by more riders crashing out or losing significant time. Caleb Ewan is out with a broken collarbone, fellow Aussie Jack Haig is in hospital with fractures & concussion, and GC favourites Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas lost crucial time after seperate heavy crashes.
Commentator Robbie McEwen said the course design was "irresponsible", and that organisers had shown “a total disregard for safety.”
“No pleasure in commentating on a Tour de France stage full of so many crashes resulting in nasty injuries, shattered hopes & riders out of the race,” he tweeted after the stage. “Irresponsible course design, total disregard for safety & lack of respect for the athletes.”
German sprinter Andre Greipel was one of several riders to voice concerns. ‘Whoever designed today’s stage should try to ride with 180 riders on a twisty 5m wide road next to each other and pushing to the limits,” he said. “Of course we riders make the race at the end but the riders also ask for an earlier time taking 5 km to go which was refused.”
Marc Madiot, the manager of Groupama-FDJ, said as a father he didn’t want his son to become a professional cyclist after what had occurred.
“This isn’t cycling any more,” he said shortly after the stage. “Something needs to change, this can’t go on. If we do nothing, we’re going to have deaths. This isn’t worthy of our sport,” he added.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step sports director Tom Steels said with the narrow roads he knew the crashes were going to occur.
“You didn’t even need a rider to do something wrong when you have road furniture and a peloton traveling at 60km/h,” he said.
“The first stages of the race need bigger roads to avoid this kind of situation, because everything is so nervous. A solution must be found so that the time of the peloton is taken earlier, with ten kilometres to calm things a bit and free more space in the bunch.”
Team rider and veteran sprinter Mark Cavendish agreed. Narrowly avoiding one of the crashes, he said “it was a very stressful day, more than it normally is at the Tour de France.”
We are keen to hear your thoughts on this - have your say in the comments section below.
Caleb Crashes Out Of 2021 Tour
Stage 3 of the 2021 Tour de France has been defined by several more crashes including a sickening high-speed spill within sight of the finish line.
In the box seat to take the win, Caleb Ewan locked wheels with Peter Sagan and both riders went down heavily. Ewan was seen to slide on the bitumen for what seemed like an eternity, the young Aussie remaining on the ground for several minutes.
Team Lotto Soudal later announced Ewan had broken his right collarbone and was out of the race.
The last of a sickening series of crashes, Geraint Thomas of the Ineos Grenadiers, Primoz Roglic of Jumbo Visma and Jack Haig of Bahrain Victorious all came down heavily and lost critical time in seperate crashes on the narrow Brittany roads.
Alpecin Fenix rider Tim Merlier won the stage, with teammate Matthieu Van der Poel retaining the yellow jersey on the flat, fast and defining day.
Shortly after the presentation it was confirmed that Jack Haig was also out of the Tour and being transferred to hospital.
More to come.
Matthieu Van der Poel has achieved his dream of wearing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, the Dutch all-rounder now in the leader's jersey at his debut Tour.
Crossing the line on the famous Mur de Bretagne, the Alpecin-Fenix rider pointed skyward - a tribute to his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor who finished second overall at the Tour on three separate occasions.
"I imagine how Poupou would be proud of me," Van der Poel said. "It's a shame he's not here. I knew this was my last chance to take the yellow jersey, it's amazing."
With the stage finale taking in two climbs of the Mur de Bretagne, Van der Poel attacked on the first ascent in an attempt to score bonus seconds.
“The first time I attacked to try to get the time bonuses, because I knew it was the only way to get the yellow jersey,” he said.
Prior to the race Van der Poel and the Alpecin Fenix team showed off retro kit, the Dutch rider also replicating a classic image of his grandfather sitting on a team car. Van der Poel also vowed to win a stage as a tribute to his late grandfather.
"The emotion really came when they told me 100% that I had the yellow jersey," Van der Poel continued. "It was an emotional moment. It’s very special to wear the yellow jersey in my first Tour de France. I gambled a little bit and I played everything the first climb already because I knew I needed the bonus seconds if I wanted the jersey and it was also my last chance to get the yellow jersey. It’s incredible.”
Michael Matthews dropped back on the stage, however Aussie Jack Haig remains in the Top 10, the Bahrain Victorious rider in 10th overall.
Overall Top 3 After Stage 2
1: Matthieu Van der Poel
2: Tadej Pogacar +8 seconds
3: Primoz Roglic
Michael Matthews has enjoyed a dream start to the 2021 Tour de France, the 30yo Aussie finishing second to World Champion Julian Alaphilippe in Stage 1 of the race.
Two major crashes marred the opening stage of the world’s greatest bike race, with some of the bigger names and overall hopefuls losing precious seconds early on.
Late in the lumpy Bretagne stage it was Alaphilippe who made the decisive attack - he launched 2.5km from the finish to solo the final climb of the day.
Matthews crossed eight seconds behind the World Champion with Primoz Roglic rounding out the superstar podium. Aussie rider Jack Haig was just behind in fourth.
Matthews: My Goal Was To Win
Now second place overall, Matthews said his goal had been to win the stage.
“There was just one guy stronger than me,” he said.
“I have sort of mixed feelings, obviously you want to win, but it’s also nice to start the Tour de France already with a podium position. I think it sets the tone for us as a team going forward for these three weeks.”
Matthews described Stage 1 as ‘tense’ and explained how he went down in the first crash.
‘It was a stupid sort of crash,” He said. “One of those ones where it was starting to get nervous in the peloton and getting fast towards the finish and someone touches the wheel and I think 80 guys went down.
“Tomorrow I think the final climb is actually harder, but better for me. We can only take confidence from today’s performance.
Stage 1 Top 3
1. Julian Alaphilippe 4:39:05
2. Michael Matthews +0:08
3. Primoz Roglic +0:08
General Classification Stage 1
1. Julian Alaphilippe 4:39:55
2. Michael Matthews +0:12
3. Primoz Roglic +0:14