Alpecin-Fenix’s Mathieu van der Poel was in tears after winning Stage 2 of the Tour de France.
The debutant wears the yellow jersey, a feat his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor famously never achieved.
Van der Poel was interviewed moments after a stunning victory and was visibly emotional as he tried to give some insight into his thoughts.
Van Aert to skip World Cyclo-cross Championships, focus on road season
“I have no words. I really don’t know what to say,” a stunned Van der Poel said after the stage.
I gambled a little bit. I went on the first climb because I knew I needed the bonus seconds if I wanted the jersey. It was my last chance to get it. It’s incredible.
After a crash-marred opening Stage, the second race was far calmer and without any serious incident other than Van der Poel’s superb performance.
Van der Poel attacked on the first of two deciding ascents of the Cote de Menehiez and looked to have gone too early with chasing trio Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Primioz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) in hot pursuit.
- Stage 2 as it happened: Van der Poel rides to superb win
- French police search for fan who caused crash
But the 26-year-old Dutchman brilliantly held off their fightbacks and claimed the bonus seconds over the summit in the process.
After crossing the line, Van der Poel pointed to the sky in honour of his grandfather – affectionately called “PouPou” – who died in 2019.
Asked who he was thinking off when he crossed the line, Van der Poel wiped tears away from his eyes and said: “My grandad, of course.”
Highlights: Van der Poel soars to emotional Stage 2 win to claim yellow
Van der Poel now leads Stage 1 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) by eight seconds in general classification, with defending champion Pogacar in third 13 seconds further back.
There are two more days of racing left in Brittany and the focus will now shift to the sprinters ahead of Stage 3 and 4.
‘Stupid! Chaos!’ – Fan causes huge crash that brings down entire peloton
Van der Poel will be expected to lose the yellow jersey as a result, with Tour de France organisers aiming to continue moving forward after a chaotic first day.
French police are hunting for the fan who caused a horrific crash at Stage 1, with tour organiser ASO claiming they plan to sue the spectator.
HOW TO WATCH THE TOUR DE FRANCE
You can watch the Tour de France live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.
Pidcock: I can be as good as Van der Poel and Van Aert
Blazin’ Saddles: The unsung heroes of the 2021 cycling season