Jumbo-Visma continued the line of the month of August by riding a lot in front of the peloton in the first two stages of the Tour de France. The Dutch team did not have a flawless opening weekend, but leaders Tom Dumoulin and Primoz Roglic are in an excellent position in the standings.
Julian Alaphilippe's attack on the final climb of the second stage on Sunday seemed familiar to Wout van Aert. "It looked suspiciously like his acceleration in Milan-San Remo, but this time I had to look from a little further away", the Belgian said with a smile.
Three weeks ago, Van Aert was the only one who could follow Alaphilippe in the Italian classic when the Frenchman accelerated on the Poggio, after which he beat the defending champion in the sprint in San Remo.
On Sunday at the Col des Quatre Chemins, Van Aert had no answer and, moreover, he had to assist his fallen leader Dumoulin shortly after the attack by Alaphilippe. The 'plan A' of Jumbo-Visma in this Tour is without a doubt to take the overall victory with Roglic or Dumoulin and almost everything has to make way for that.
“On Sunday there might have been a chance for me to win the stage, although Alaphilippe's group was clearly stronger than the rest of the front group. But as we said beforehand: we are here for a higher purpose and what that? As far as concerns are concerned, we are still in good shape ", Van Aert referred to Dumoulin's tenth place and Roglic's eleventh place. "The weight of the race is not yet on our shoulders, that is a perfect position."
Summary Tour stage 2: Alaphilippe takes stage victory and yellow
'Taken control at the right times'
Jumbo-Visma does not have to defend the yellow jersey yet - it is in the hands of Alaphilippe - but the yellow-black formation already showed on Saturday and especially Sunday that this Tour intends to take the initiative frequently. The team did that earlier this month with great success in the Tour de l'Ain and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
In the second stage, Jumbo-Visma took control of the Col de Turini, the toughest climb of the day, while Robert Gesink did a big head turn on the penultimate climb, the Col d'Èze.
"We didn't really want to drive fast on Sunday, but we took the lead on the parts that we wanted to pass safely," said Gesink. "At times the front work may be a bit redundant, but if you are sitting from behind, you are only following. Then you better take the head."
"Of course we also know that the Tour will last three weeks, but we have the power to take the lead. Again: it is better to be in front of the problems than behind them. You notice that the rest of the peloton tries that too."
Sports director Frans Maassen thought his team had driven "perfectly" on Sunday. "We took control at the right moments. And we didn't do too much, although it sometimes seemed that way. The only downside was that Tom's steering wheel was pushed out of his hands, but luckily he quickly got back in the group with favorites. So we have to be very satisfied. "
See also: View the classifications of the Tour de France with Dumoulin in tenth place