Tour de France 2021 - Stage 2 as it happened: Mathieu van der Poel produces stunning ride to win stage and yellow
The Tour de France continues on Sunday with the 183.5km Stage 2 from Perros-Guirec to Mur-de-Bretagne where a similar punchy uphill ramp should give Alaphilippe’s rivals a chance to bite back – or see the fantastic Frenchman double up in Brittany. Follow live updates with Felix Lowe. You can watch the Tour de France live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk.
‘The cream will rise to the top!’ - Van der Poel takes yellow with blistering ride
Geraint Thomas was on the wrong side of a split and crossed the line 23 seconds down on the winner today, so he drops 10 places to 20th on GC - 41 seconds behind Van de Poel. His Ineos Grenadier teammate Richard Carapaz, however, did not lose any time on the other GC favourites so the Ecuadorian is up to 18th at 31 seconds.
Van der Poel in tears after win
In the post-race interview, the emotional new race leader said: "I have no words. I really don’t know what to say."
Pressed on his tactics, Van der Poel said: "I gambled a little bit. I went on the first time because I knew I needed the bonus seconds if I wanted the jersey. It was my last chance to get it."
Asked (a little cheaply, if you ask me) by Seb Piquet, the voice of Radio Tour, who he was thinking of when he crossed the line, he said, "My grandfather, of course," before breaking into tears. Raymond Poulidor, of course, never wore the yellow jersey in his long and otherwise illustrious career.
The Dutch debutant does it! No one can go with him on his second attack and Van der Poel picks up a maiden Tour de France stage win at Mur-de-Bretagne for Alpecin-Fenix. He didn't do it in the special Poulidor-Mercier memorial kit that his team wore yesterday - but to make up for that, he'll don the yellow jersey tonight.
That's because behind the race leader doesn't have the legs so missed out on the remaining bonus seconds - which go to Pogacar and Roglic - and so the Dutchman will soar to the top of the standings tonight.
1km to go: Quintana caught
The Colombian is reeled in and it's Van der Poel on the front with Colbrelli, Pogacar, Roglic, Alaphilippe all there...
1.5km to go: Quintana attacks!
One of the Alpecin-Fenix riders took it up but then realised that Van der Poel wasn't on his wheel. Davide Formolo was, and the Italian went clear momentarily before hitting the wall. Ineos then come back onto the front ahead of an attack from Nairo Quintana!
3km to go: Final ascent coming up
Quick-Step and UAE have numbers here as well as Ineos - and here comes Astana with Fraile and Lutsenko and Aranburu. Gaudu is there for Groupama and it's a huge sprint for what is a reduced bunch of around 60 riders ahead of this final climb. Ineos, though, still have four on the front: Kwiatkowski, Castroviejo, Carapaz and Thomas.
6km to go: Alpecin vs Ineos
Ineos Grenadiers have company! Standing up to their six riders are four riders from Alpecin-Fenix, with the Swiss national champion Silvan Dillier pulling on the front for Van der Poel, who will want another bite of the apple.
10km to go: Sagan dropped?
We're hearing that Peter Sagan is one of the many riders who have been distanced after that first climb. Wout van Aert, Michael Woods and Sonny Colbrelli are all here as Alaphillippe moves up and tucks himself in behind the Ineos train.
13km to go: Ineos take it up
After that initial flurry, Ineos Grenadiers now come to the front of the slimmed-down pack to restore some order. Pog and Rog and the man in yellow could have kicked on after the last summit but they were joined by Van der Poel and a cluster of others before deciding to knock it off and wait for the final ascent.
15km to go: VdP caught at summit
Mathieu van der Poel sits up but just holds on to take the eight bonus seconds over the summit - as well as the 2 KOM points. Behind, Julian Alaphilippe launched the sprint for the remaining bonuses but the Slovenians powered through to deny him: Pogacar taking the five seconds for second place and Pogacar the two for third. A fiery hors d'oeuvre for what's in store. Game on!
17km to go: Van der Poel attacks!
The rangy Dutchman doesn't wait until the final ascent and instead makes his move early on the first of two climbs of the Cote de Menehiez, which many wrongly call the Mur-de-Bretagne (that's the name of the village at the bottom). It's a 2km climb at 6.9% and it pretty much goes in a long straight line, making it a psychological test as much as a physical one. Alaphilippe went early yesterday but this is just ridiculous...
18km to go: Theuns takes KOM point
The Belgian holds on - just - to take the single point over the top of the Cote de Village moments before getting caught.
20km to go: Theuns goes clear
After a brief discussion the two leaders have their final tussle and it results in Theuns riding clear of Cabot ahead of the next climb, the Cote de Village. He has about 20 seconds to play with over the returning peloton, which will soon gobble up the Frenchman in between.
23km to go: Cav on the front
Mark Cavendish is doing a job for Alaphilippe on the front of the pack but he trades some angry words with Mikkel Bjerg of UAE Team Emirates, who wants the Deceuninck-QuickStep train to let his teammate Tadej Pogacar, the defending champion, through to get on his wheel. The white jersey of Pogacar was boxed in a little and one of Cav's teammates tells him to concede the way to let the Slovenian through.
That's it for Cav, who sits up and slips back after his work for the day is done. He'll now have one mind on tomorrow's sprint at Pontivy, where he has a chance to get back to winning ways on the Tour - five years after his last win.
26km to go: Blustery in Brittany
The helicopter just did a fly-by over the finish and it looks quite windy up top with the riders likely to have to ride up against a headwind. The jostling for positions has begun. First up is the Cote du Village du Mur-de-Bretagne, a little leg-stretcher ahead of the main course (which is served twice). The two leaders - Theuns and Cabot - have just over a minute to play with and will be caught before or on the first ascent of the final climb.
Fourth visit in 10 years
This will be the fourth finish at Mur-de-Bretagne in the last decade with the Cote de Menehiez proving to be a firm fan favourite in the Tour. The first winner here was Cadel Evans in 2011, then Alexis Vuillermoz in 2015 and then Dan Martin in 2018. Who will take the spoils today? Take your pick from Alaphilippe, Van Aert, Van der Poel, Roglic, Pogacar, Valverde, Matthews, Colbrelli, Barguil...
35km to go: Still two minutes
Sorry for the delay - my laptop had a software meltdown. Not much to update you on: the two leaders still have 1'50" on the peloton, which is preparing itself for the final three ascents of the day: one Cat.4 climb ahead of the finishing circuit that includes two climbs of the Cote de Menehiez. Deceuninck-QuickStep have power in numbers near the front as they hope to tee up their man in yellow, Julian Alaphlippe, for a second successive win.
Will bonus sprint be a factor?
The first of two ascents of the Cote de Menehiez outside Mur-de-Bretagne will have a special bonus sprint on the summit with 8-5-2 bonus seconds up for grabs. There are also 10-6-4 bonus seconds at the finish for the top three. So we could potentially see a change in the standings today with 18 seconds up for grabs and some 21 riders all within 18 seconds of Julian Alaphilippe's lead. It will be interesting to see if any of the GC riders go for those bonus seconds: yesterday it looked like Pogacar and Roglic held off from chasing Alaphilippe - perhaps because, as much as they'd have relished an opening day win, the prospect of starting the Tour in yellow, if you want to end it in yellow, may have been a little off-putting.
55km to go: Sun back out, Koch caught
So, we have just the two leaders now after Jonas Koch was swallowed up and spat out by the pack. Those leaders are Edward Theuns and Jeremy Cabot; their lead is 1'55" and there is certainly a sense of the calm before the storm. But it was around this point where the s*** hit the fan - or the other way round, I guess - yesterday. And as a timely reminder, some UAE riders in the pack just gesticulated wildly at some young fans who strayed too close to the action...
65km to go: Two out ahead
Theuns and Cabot have joined forces with a lead of 1'45" over the pack, which has now caught Schelling, Perez and Clarke. Koch, I think, is hanging out somewhere in between these two legs of the race.
68km to go: Theuns takes KOM point
There's a ceasefire between Schelling and Perez on the Cote de Saint-Brieuc with both riders realising they cannot catch Theuns, who in turn takes the solitary KOM point over the summit. The spectators are out in their droves and - thankfully - are all very respectful today: no repeat of that idiocy from yesterday.
Theuns has Cabot in pursuit with Jonas Koch and then Clarke a bit further back after the Australian - back after his spill - went clear of Schelling and Perez. That basically means that Schelling will keep the polka dot jersey today - unless the same rider goes over the top of the final climb, which is ridden twice and has third-category status.
70km to go: Theuns on the attack
The Belgian takes his chance ahead of a descent that precedes the next climb. He opens up a good gap while behind Simon Clarke hits the deck on the descent - a reminder of the technical nature of these roads, especially when wet. He's back on his bike and back with the other escapees ahead of the climb - but they've all missed the boat with that Theuns attack.
75km to go: Tensions rise in break
Schelling may be a crowd-pleaser but his antics are not winning him any friends in the break: the Dutchman seems to have decided not to do any work following that huge effort and that's earned him a strong reprimand from Jeremy Cabot, the rider with whom he managed to bridge across earlier. The gap is down to 1'10" so they could well survive to contest the next climb but probably not the fourth.
Meanwhile, Mathieu van der Poel is off the back after needing a wheel change because of a rear puncture. He was badly placed yesterday for the finale - too far back to react when Alaphilippe made his winning move. Can he put things right today? It will be tough, given the double ascent of the Cote de Menehiez, but not beyond him.
80km to go: What a polka dot party!
The breakaway splits up on the next climb, the Cote de Pordic (2.3km at 3.3%) after Schelling puts in an early dig, which is countered by Perez. Koch goes with them both as the trio open up a gap over the others. And when the summit comes Perez and Schelling treat the fans to a battle royale of uphill sprinting! Bravo guys, that's brilliant... Schelling goes early with 300m to spare only for Perez to bite back. They're shoulder-to-shoulder but with still a while to go - and it's the Dutchman who eventually proves the strongest, outlasting the Frenchman who shakes his head in anger. Schelling, meanwhile, celebrates as if he's just won the stage! Glorious stuff.
After all that, Schelling's one-point lead over Perez has been restored - and we still have two more of these Cat.4 climbs to go ahead of the double ascent of the finishing climb. Bring it on...
85km to go: The heavens open
It's raining chats et chiens right now with the entire race and its entourage completely drenched. It's probably a flash shower because it's still pretty bright and few riders have bothered with jackets. The gap for the six leaders is down to 1'20" but the pace has really eased up on these slippery roads - no one, clearly, wants a repeat of yesterday's incidents.
98km to go: Theuns wins intermediate sprint
Jonas Koch is the one who kicks out first at Plouha for the intermediate sprint but Edward Theuns - who crashed three times yesterday - jumps onto his wheel and then has enough zip to hold him at bay to take the intermediate sprint spoils.
When the peloton passes through around 1'45" down it's Caleb Ewan who pips Mark Cavendish and Jasper Philipsen in the battle of the sprinters behind. That was a feisty affair and well contested - again, no surprise given that the fastmen won't be contesting the victory today on that steep ramped finale. The likes of Demare, Bouhanni, Sagan, Coquard and Matthews were further back.
103km to go: Sun out ahead of sprint
The next flashpoint will be the intermediate sprint and for that the sun has just come out again. Our six leaders are back as one after that dig from Schelling. Their advantage is up to 2'50". Meanwhile, we've passed some lovely chateaux so far today...
110km to go: Perez takes KOM point
We have a polka-dot battle on our hands! The breakaway move onto the first of six ascents today and it's the Cat.4 Cote de Sainte-Barbe (0.9km at 6.6%). And it's Perez who leads it out from the front, dancing heavily on the pedals and almost, it seems, biting his bottom lip off in the process. He takes the point as Schelling and Theuns lead the chase in vain - and that will put the Frenchman level with the Dutchman's three points in the KOM standings. Perhaps in frustration, Schelling then attacks going over the brow of the hill - perhaps in a bid to shell out the other escapees, like he did yesterday.
120km to go: Two minutes for break
Right, that's my lunch done. And we pick things up with the gap down to just two minutes now for our six-man move, which is a veritable league of nations. They are: Belgian Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Dutchman Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), Frenchmen Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Jeremy Cabot (Team TotalEnergies), Australia's Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-Assos) and Germany's Jonas Koch (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert).
136km to go: Rain eases up
It's interesting to see Ineos Grenadiers so prevalent today. They suffered a couple of blows yesterday with Tao Geoghegan Hart conceding over five minutes on his Tour debut and Richie Porte - who won the Dauphine - coming home over two minutes down. Amazingly, Geraint Thomas kept out of trouble and crossed the line in the first chase group, eight seconds down on Alaphilippe. Richard Carapaz was caught out in a late split and so conceded five seconds to the Thomas group. With time bonuses factored in, the Ecuadorian is now 23 seconds down on the French race leader.
Right, I'm off to grab some lunch myself. The six leaders have 3'50" and they're about 25km from the first climb of the day.
'He is the world’s best bike rider' - Wiggins after Alaphilippe ‘devastating’ Stage 1 win
Alaphilippe: another milestone
An interesting stat coming from Rob Hatch on the Eurosport live coverage today: Julian Alaphilippe (who leads the green jersey standings as well as the general classification) is now the sixth rider to have topped, at some point, all jersey classifications at the Tour. The others are Laurent Jalabert, Richard Virenque, Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, Greg LeMond and David Millar. On top of that, he's the world champion so already has a lot of colour on his usual jersey...
Here's how the Frenchman looks today in yellow after picking up his sixth career win on the Tour yesterday... and you wouldn't put it behind him doubling up on Mur-de-Bretagne today, although it's worth adding that, after his win at Landerneau, he admitted: "I raced as if there was no stage tomorrow."
145km to go: Four minutes for break
We've had our first drops of rain... the jackets come out from some of the backmarkers while it's the familiar sight of Tim 'Breakaway Killer' Declercq on the front of the peloton tapping out tempo for Deceuninck-QuickStep. He's followed by the entire Ineos Grenadiers team who are there en masse keeping their men out of trouble and with the rest of QuickStep - including the yellow jersey Alaphilippe and Britain Mark Cavendish - tucked in behind. The six leaders now have four minutes on the pack.
155km to go: Bonnamour in his home town
With the race passing through Lannion, the hometown of Frank Bonnamour, the peloton has eased up to allow the Frenchman from B&B Hotels to ride clear and soak up the applause from his friends and family. That's a lovely sight - a real throwback to another era where this kind of action was the norm - and it will be a moment the Tour debutant will never forget. Bonnamour was in the breakaway yesterday, it's worth adding, so he's had a superb start to the Tour.
160km to go: Gap grows to three minutes
These six escapees have managed to carve out a lead of over three minutes now so it looks like they're here for a while - with Perez vs Schelling in the polka-dot push as the subplot. Meanwhile, we have the first of many, many chateaux...
165km to go: Schellling joins the party
We now have six leaders after Ide Schelling - after his sixth attack! - managed to bridge over with a rider from Team TotalEnergies - Jeremy Cabot. The peloton looks to have sat up and let this move go so things should settle a bit now. Which is just as well for it gives us a chance to drink in the Breton coastline...
Early mechanical for Lopez
It's been a tricky start to Miguel Angel Lopez's first Tour for Movistar: he was caught up in the second crash yesterday and lost the best part of two minutes - as well as one of his key mountain lieutenants in Marc Soler, who did not take to the start today. The Colombian has also already been off the back today with a mechanical issue... He's back with the bunch now.
170km to go: Four riders clear
It was a pretty frantic opening with numerous attempts thwarted as the peloton hugged the rugged Atlantic coast past numerous golden sand beaches (the tide is out and it's a wonderful sight). But we now have four men clear: Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Simon Clarke (Qhubeka-Assos) and Jonas Koch (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert).
It hasn't settled behind, though, with Schelling putting in attack after attack in a bid to join the leaders. He missed out on the move and the presence of Perez in the break - who has two KOM points and so trails the Dutchman by just one digit in the polka dot race - means the Bora man is panicking a touch. It's great to watch but he'll need to rein it in a little or pick the right moment, otherwise he'll blow up well before the finish today.
Who's in what jersey?
So, it's that man Julian Alaphilippe who has swapped his rainbow bands for yellow after his victory yesterday. The Frenchman also leads the green jersey classification but that jersey today is being worn by Michael Matthews, who finished second in Landernau. It's Tadej Pogacar, last year's overall winner, who is in white, while Bora-Hansgrohe's Ide Schelling is the polka dot jersey after starring in yesterday's break. And here they were at today's start...
182.5km to go: They're off!
The remaining 180 riders have got this second stage under way - and just like yesterday, things have got going with a little dig from the Belgian Victor Campenaerts. The polka dot jersey of Ide Schelling is also near the front as the Dutchman looks to protect his lead in the KOM standings. It's show time.
Stage 2 profile
The riders are in the neutral zone ahead of today's official start - the sun is out in sporadic bursts through the puffy clouds. They're on the coast at Perros-Guirec. We'll have flattish opening third followed by four fourth-category climbs ahead of the double ascent of the all-important Cat.3 ascent at Mur-de-Bretagne. It's 183.5km in total - and lets hope for as much drama, but fewer spills as yesterday.
Fallout from Stage 1: Froome & Hirschi continue; Soler out
Three riders abandoned on the first day of the Tour after those two incidents: Germany's Jasha Sutterlin (Team DSM) after the first incident when Tony Martin was struck by a spectator, and then Lithuania’s Ignatas Konovalonas (Groupama-FDJ) and France’s Cyril Lemoine (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) following the second pile-up.
Marc Hirschi - who won a stage last year on his debut Tour before leaving Sunweb for UAE Team Emirates - narrowly avoided hitting a telegraph pole but was thrown across a ditch and into a bush. He separated his shoulder and finished 18 minutes down - but will continue today. As will four-time Tour champion Chris Froome, who conceded 14 minutes on his debut for Israel Start-Up Nation, but was given the all-clear after tests.
But Spain's Marc Soler - who finished in last place yesterday almost 25 minutes down - will not take to the start. The Movistar rider came down badly in that first crash before soldiering his way to the finish for 45 painful kilometres. Tests later revealed that he had broken bones in both his forearms. Blimey...
Bonjour le Tour! Stage 2 awaits...
Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of the second stage of the Tour de France. Yesterday's stage was marred by two huge pile-ups in the final hour - one caused by a spectator holding a cardboard sign, the other a high-speed spill in the peloton just ahead of the final climb.
Now, after a long night for both the doctors and mechanics, the race is set to continue...
Here's a reminder of what happened in that second, quite ghastly, crash, which involved pretty much half the peloton.
‘He is down on his return to the Tour’ - Froome caught up in ‘absolute disaster’ of a crash
Opinion: Fans can make and break the Tour
On Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France, the s*** really did hit the fan – but not after one careless spectator did their best to s*** on the world’s biggest bike race.
Granny and grandpa would have been so pleased…
The incident occurred with 45km remaining just after the summit of the penultimate climb. Just minutes earlier, Dutch debutant Ide Schelling, the last man standing from a six-man break to animate the 198km stage from Brest, punched the air after taking the KOM point that secured him the polka dot jersey.
Schelling’s wild celebrations on wrapping up a classification jersey on his first day on the Tour are exactly why we watch cycling. What happened moments later, less so.
With the peloton zipping along after cresting the summit, one fan thought this would be an ideal moment to send a message to her grandparents watching on TV at home. Stepping out onto the road with a cardboard cut-out with the words “Allez Opi-Omi” – Go granny and grandpa! – the careless fan knocked Tony Martin off his bike, the resulting ripple effect tearing through the peloton.
‘Stupid! Chaos!’ – Fan causes huge crash that brings down entire peloton
STAGE 1 RECAP
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme admitted that Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France had been designed with Julian Alaphilippe in mind – and the French world champion duly delivered with an astonishing win to secure the yellow jersey in Landerneau.
Alaphilippe darted out of the wheel of Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Dries Devenyns with 2.3km remaining to open up a gap over his rivals on the steepest part of the final climb, the Cote de la Fosse aux Loups.
And despite last year’s yellow jersey protagonists – the Slovenian’s Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic – leading the chase, Alaphilippe’s bold early move paid off as the 29-year-old added another huge win to his swelling palmares, days after becoming a father for the first time.
The Australian Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) led a small chase pack over the line eight seconds down ahead of Jumbo-Visma’s Roglic, as Alaphilippe became the first Frenchman since Bernard Hinault in 1981 to win the opening stage of the Tour de France while displaying the famous rainbow bands.
After bonus seconds were factored in, Alaphilippe leads Matthews by 12 seconds at the top of the general classification with Roglic, last year’s runner-up, two seconds back in third. Matthews will don the green jersey on Sunday’s second stage, Dutchman Ide Schelling will be in polka dots after the Bora-Hansgrohe debutant starred in the day’s breakaway, while defending champion Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will be in white after taking a solid sixth on a day of drama.
Highlights: Alaphilippe takes brilliant solo win after two huge pile-ups on Stage 1
‘That puts paid to him contending for GC’ – Wiggins on Froome after Stage 1 pile-up
Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) may have won a dramatic Stage 1, but, four-time winner Chris Froome was caught up in a crash with just over 6km to go, and, speaking on The Breakaway after the race, 2012 winner Bradley Wiggins said the pile-up had put paid to Froome’s outside hopes of contending on GC. Froome came in 14:37 down on stage winner Alaphilippe.
“We saw Chris Froome finishing up way back a while ago,” began Wiggins.
That puts paid to him contending for this GC at the Tour de France. But we’re still trying to soak it up and get information.