Mathieu van der Poel insists his Tour de France has already been a huge success despite losing the yellow jersey on Stage 8 on Saturday.
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar finally wrestled the lead from Van der Poel after a blistering performance between Oyonnax and Le Grand-Bornand.
Alpecin-Fenix's Van der Poel didn’t finish in the top ten of the race and slipped to 23rd in the standings, but was still in high spirits after the results were confirmed.
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"I realised early on the stage I wouldn't keep the jersey. But I'm happy with how I felt, also uphill. My Tour has already been a success,” he said.
My Tour de France is more than a success. On rest day we will see when I leave.
“I wouldn’t mind riding to Paris. The Tour is kind of fun. But the team will want otherwise. We have another goal.”
Van der Poel has performed sensationally at the Tour de France, but it was Pogacar who clicked into gear on Stage 8.
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The Slovenian set a relentless pace in the final 35km which none of his rivals could live with and now has a nice cushion over the chasing pack. Pogacar eventually finished fourth, with Dylan Teuns winning Stage 8, and Ion Izagirre Insausti (Astana) and Michael Woods in second and third.
“I said we’ll see how it goes today,” the Slovenian after his excellent display.
“Then to start it was a super hard day, riders everywhere, at the moment I was in the breakaway and it was super hard for everyone.
"In the end I felt good in this weather, it feels great and I just decided before the last three climbs I said to my team-mates ‘yeah let’s try to break the race’ and we did it
Teuns comes home for emotional Stage win before new leader Pogacar rolls home
"Davide Formolo and Brandon [McNulty] and Rui [Costa] did such an amazing job and I just took off and tried to pace myself to the finish line and yeah I’m pretty happy.”
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