UAE Team Emirates rider and defending champion Tadej Pogacar clinched a podium finish and moved to second spot overall after stage two of the Tour de France on Sunday.
The Slovenian finished second ahead of countryman Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma in the 183.5-kilometre second stage, which was won by Mathieu van der Poel of Alpecin-Fenix.
An emotional Van der Poel was in tears after the race, dedicating his stage win to his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor who finished on the Tour’s podium eight times but never wore the yellow jersey.
“I have no words, really,” the Dutchman said. “Imagine if he was here how proud he would have been. He isn’t here anymore to see but as I said, imagine how proud he would be.”
The result gave UAE Team Emirates a timely boost after the issues they faced on the opening day. On Saturday, rider Marc Hirschi was among a group of riders involved in a crash when Team Jumbo Visma's Tony Martin collided with a fan who strayed onto the road. Swiss rider Hirschi was passed fit by the medical team to compete on Sunday.
Van der Poel made two attacking forays in the final 20km. He led from stage one winner Julien Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep, before dashing to the line from the final 150m eight seconds ahead of Pogacar and Roglic.
The 10 bonus seconds on the line, and the eight Van der Poel claimed on the first ascent of the climb, moved him into yellow with an advantage of eight seconds to Alaphilippe.
“I just launched my first attack with one lap to go and no one followed,” Van der Poel added.
“I kept on going until I had the bonus seconds and that was my only and last chance to grab the yellow jersey.
“The last 500 metres were really painful but I knew that I had to keep on going as fast as I could just to get the gap. I didn’t know until five minutes after the finish that I had the yellow jersey. It’s unbelievable.”
Van der Poel caught everyone by surprise with an early attack. He was unable to build a significant advantage though, and he was within sights just as the riders approached the summit of the Mur-de-Bretagne.
Van der Poel did take the eight bonus seconds on offer for the first rider across the summit, though, with Pogacar taking a crucial five bonus seconds, and Roglic two.
The race then entered a moment of calm, headed by Ineos Grenadiers, before the final ascent began with two kilometres to go.
Richie Porte of Ineos Grenadiers set a searing pace on the front, and with 1.3km to go Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) attacked from deep.
That move ignited a response from Van der Poel. Pogacar and Roglic were also attentive, as was Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), who made his move with 900m between him and the line.
The sight of Colbrelli forced a second reaction from Van der Poel, Pogacar and Roglic, and within 150m Van der Poel had jumped clear and this time his attack was to stay.
It was surprising how Alaphilippe, especially, didn’t respond to the Dutch superstar, with the Frenchman seemingly content to gift the yellow jersey to his biggest rival.
Van der Poel rode to an emotional victory eight seconds ahead of Pogacar and Roglic, the Slovenians taking second and third and the bonus seconds on offer, an early reminder that they are the race’s two favourites for yellow come Paris.
The Tour continues with stage three on Monday, a 182.9km from Lorient to Pontivy which should see the race's first sprint finish.