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Van der Poel's yellow jersey fulfills late grandfather Poulidor's lifetime dream

By RFI
Europe STEPHANE MAHE POOL/AFP
JUN 27, 2021 LISTEN
STEPHANE MAHE POOL/AFP

Dutch cyclist Mathieu Van der Poel won stage 2 of the Tour de France on Sunday to claim the overall leader's yellow jersey. He immediately made a reference to his grandfather, the late French cycling hero Raymond Poulidor.

On his first Tour de France, Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) picked up eight bonus seconds in the first of two ascents to Mur de Bretagne, then produced a brutal acceleration with 700 metres left in the final ascent, taking the overall leader's yellow jersey from France's Julian Alaphilippe.

Defending champion Tadej Pogacar was second followed by Primoz Roglic, six seconds behind, while Alaphilippe was fifth at eight seconds.

The 25-year-old is the grandson of French cycling icon, the late Raymond Poulidor who never wore the coveted jersey in 14 participations in the Tour between 1962-76, winning seven stages and finishing eight times on the podium.

"Imagine how he'd feel, he's not here," said van der Poel of Poulidor who died in 2019 at the age of 83.

"This was my last chance on the Tour to do it, it's so good."

Police investigate Saturday's crash
Meanwhile, French police have appealed for witnesses as they launched a probe into the giant domino-effect pile-up that marred the opening stage on Saturday, caused by a spectator who leant into the path of the speeding peloton holding up a sign.

The woman held up a sign with 'Granny and Grandad' written in German and looked up the road towards the race's motorbike cameras, crucially, with her back to the speeding peloton before disappearing into the crowd.

German rider Tony Martin brushed into her, lost his balance and fell, causing a sickening wave of falls that swept through most of the peloton, leaving them in a tangled mess of bikes and bodies.

DSM's German rider Jasha Sutterlin was the only cyclist who had to pull out at once, his Tour de France dream ruined on day one.

Eight other riders needed treatment from the official doctor and a host of others were treated for grazes, bruises and cuts caused by the pile-up.

Legal complaint
Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli and Dutch rider Wout van Aert, who ran over Martin before falling head over heels, had both been among the favourites to win the first stage.

"We are suing this woman who behaved so badly," Tour deputy director Pierre-Yves Thouault told AFP.

"We are doing this so that the tiny minority of people who do this do not spoil the show for everyone," he said.

The police said that when they catch the culprit they intend to charge her with "unintentional short-term injury through a manifestly deliberate breach of a duty of safety or care", lieutenant-colonel Joel Scherer of the French Gendarmerie said.

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