Wednesday 6th July witnessed the most intense battle of the Tour so far. The GC contenders were fighting like cats and dogs to take the win on one of the toughest stages of the Tour. But the cobbles had more surprises rolled up the sleeve. Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) took the win and Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) stood second.
The scramble between Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) was highly anticipated, but it did not quite turn out that day. Both the riders were seen struggling on their own at the 157 km long track. When just 38 km were left to the finish line, Van der Poel was seen missing from the lead group. Although Van Aert was there to support his leader, Jonas Vingegaard.
Mathieu admitted that he had not been feeling well for the past few days, and he was not feeling in form for the race. He said in the morning:
I haven’t been feeling very well for a few days, actually,
He continued talking about his low strength:
Yesterday, it became painfully clear that I don’t have the legs I hoped for. It will have to be a lot better than yesterday to participate for the win
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Later on, Van Der Poel suffered from a puncture and finished 3:48 minutes behind the stage winner Simon Clarke. He managed to finish the race in 81st place. When he was asked to comment on his performance at the stage, he said:
It’s not really positive. Instead of a better day, I was even worse today
He felt frustrated and disappointed with the performance:
I’m a shadow of myself at the moment, and it’s frustrating. I have no idea what it is. I’m not really up to speed at the moment
Although he had a promising start at Copenhagen, but he feels taking only fifth place at the time trial is not good enough. Before joining the team for the Tour, he took a break of a month after his debut at Giro d’Italia. It was also the First Grand tour that the Dutch completed. He talked about his debut performance with not much satisfaction:
It was good in the Giro, but also not outstanding. The run-up to the Tour wasn’t very good either, apart from the last week before the Tour. That was positive again, but before that it wasn’t the case either
The upcoming stage 6 on Thursday 7th July, is more to the taste of Van der Poel. The stage is supposed to occur in the southern Ardennes hills, close to the Belgian border. He looked quite uncertain of his performance in future stages when he said:
For a while now, I haven’t reached the level I want to reach. The only perspective now is to continue and then hope it will be better later on
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But the question remains, Will Van der Poel be able to regain his form or will the pressure of the Grand Tour take its toll on him?
Featured Image Via YouTube/ Jose Cycling