Stuyven grabs polka dot jersey after thrilling stage two finish

Jasper Stuyven put on a thrilling performance in stage two of the Tour de France as he valiantly tried to hold off the peloton in the closing kilometers only to be caught 450 meters from the line.

Stuyven narrowly lost taking home a prestigious Tour victory in the nail-biting ending, but was first over the final category-three climb to secure the polka dot jersey, and also earned the combative award for the stage. To Stuyven, though, these were little consolation in overcoming the disappointment of missing the victory.

“It’s nice to have the polka dot jersey although I am not really a climber, and it’s nice to be on the podium,” said Stuyven. “It’s a good thing to have this after today, but that was not what I was going for in the final and right now I can only feel disappointment. When you are that close to a stage win in the Tour… In the end, I was starting to believe in the victory, and that makes it a huge disappointment.”

Stuyven joined three others early in the 183-kilometer stage to form the day’s breakaway, a move that looked hopeless with many hungry and fresh teams vying for a win only two days into the Tour and the prestigious yellow jersey on the line.

But when the gap held steady to the leaders, down to three men in the final part of the stage, and the teams appeared to play a poker game in the pursuit, the tables turned in favor of the escapees.

Clearly the strongest, Stuyven jumped away from his compatriots on a climb with less than 9 kilometers remaining and set his sights on the finish. Stuyven looked to be on his way to a thrilling victory in his first Tour until the road pitched steeply up 1.5-kilometers from the end and decided else wise.

Stuyven: “I knew what was coming because we had a video of the finish from Josu (Larrazabal, Head of Performance). I knew it was going to be hard, so I just tried to spin, keep a high cadence and keep the power going. Everything was going well until the steepest part, right after the roundabout, I had a really hard moment to push the watts. My legs were empty.

“I looked back at the top of the KOM and saw a Tinkoff guy coming, and I knew they were pulling for Sagan, and they were not going to slow down. You know then it’s over. Then you hear they are coming, and they pass you, and you just crack.

“I am disappointed because maybe I won’t get this close again. I had good legs, and I knew I was the strongest of the group, but when you don’t win it’s always a feeling a little bit of disappointment.

“I tried my best. This is the Tour, and I came here to not just be one of the 200 riders. I wanted to show myself; I felt good yesterday already and today I was aiming higher. It was nice to be up there in the Tour and maybe tonight and tomorrow I will be more happy with what I have done.”

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