From a crash caused by a fan to some of the most unlikely people donning the tour’s jerseys, this year’s Tour de France is proving to be full of surprises.
In the opening stage of the 108th running of the French classic, the publicity was directed at the fan interference, causing an early crash in the peloton. It seems as if the fan interaction post-COVID has become a bit excessive since permitting fans to return to the sidelines of sporting events. This is just the latest incident revolving around fans in the sports world, which should cause sports leagues to crack down on what fans should be able to do at sporting venues. Outside of a crash occurring closer to the finish-one that involved four-time Tour champion Chris Froome-it was Frenchman world champion Julian Alaphilippe who crossed the line first, earning the right to don the yellow jersey in the next stage of the tour.
Stage 2 was conquered by Mathieu Van Der Poel of team Alpecin-Fenix, and he took the yellow from Alaphilippe, maintaining his overall position throughout the week. Alaphilippe held the green jersey for stages 2 and 3, while 22-year-old Tadej Pogačar retained the young rider jersey for the second consecutive day. He ranked in the top 10 overall for the entire first week.
A very basic Stage 3 kept the standings the same while allowing Van Der Poel’s Alpecin-Fenix teammate Tim Merlier to take the stage victory. The stage included two category-four climbs and a sprint in between, but these three challenges did not result in any change in the standings.
Stage 4 resulted in the most unlikely stage winner. Mark Cavendish, the British cyclist from Deceuninck-Quick Step, took the stage victory and the green jersey from Julian Alaphilippe after earning 15 points on the day. Cavendish has been cycling professionally since 2005, is amongst the most decorated racers in TDF history, amassing 32 wins (after his stage 6 victory this year), second-most in tour history behind Belgian rider Eddy Merckx (34). His green jersey victory again cements his place as a relevant sprinter, something he has been known as since he began competing in the tour. All other standings stood the same as stage 3, headlined by Van Der Poel retaining the yellow jersey.
Stage 5 was a time trial, with featured time trialists Chris Froome and world time trial champion Tony Martin putting up good-not-great times on an overcast day. The champion on the day was the best young rider Tadej Pogačar, who continued to build on his success in the recent days. All other standings stayed the same, as time trials tend not to have sprints for points or mountainous sections.
Stage 6 featured a category 4 climb in the middle, with a sprint challenge towards the end. It seemed natural that the sprint points leader, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish, took his second stage victory of the tour. The original 184 riders had been trimmed down to 177, and although Julian Alaphilippe made his best attempt at a stage victory in the final sprint to the finish, Cavendish pushed himself within 2 of the all-time stage wins record with a victory. All jersey holders stood the same by the end of the race, with Cavendish still holding his green jersey for another day.
Stage 7 was the final stage of the week, consisting of the same 177 riders. This stage was the first of the season consisting of a few solid climbs. Following the sprint challenge in the middle of the race, riders embarked upon a category 2 climb and two category 3 and 4 climbs. Slovenian rider Matej Mohoric not only came out of the brutal stage with a stage win but claimed the most points in the climber competition to take control of the polka-dot jersey. Team Jumbo-Visma of Belgium seems to be taking control of the most dominant team competition, holding the lead under riders such as Primož Roglič and American cyclist Sepp Kuss. Mathieu Van Der Poel finished the first week wearing yellow. Cavendish continued his unexpected run as the sprint classification leader, while last year’s Tour winner Tadej Pogačar being the best young rider by a 2-minute margin.
Next week’s stages will continue to beat down on the riders, starting with a ride through the Alps on Saturday.
All statistics, results, and up-to-date data and reports were found on the tour’s website.
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