Mathieu van der Poel has confirmed his status as the world's greatest cyclist after his Stage 2 win at the Tour de France. That is according to Sir Bradley Wiggins.
The Dutchman won courtesy of a mesmerising ride over the double-ascent at Mur-de-Bretagne to take the yellow jersey. The Alpecin-Fenix rider attacked to take the bonus seconds on the first ascent of the Mur before soaring clear inside the last kilometre of the race to ensure he will begin Stage 3 in the maillot jaune.
It was a ride that confirmed Van der Poel’s status as the world’s best said Wiggins, speaking alongside Orla Chennaoui and Graham Willgoss on the latest edition of the Bradley Wiggins Show.
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“It has overshadowed everything else that has happened at the race,” began Wiggins, with Chennaoui adding that Van der Poel is spearheading a new generation of riders who are broadening the appeal of the sport.
“This is the new generation of riders and it's an exciting generation,” said Chennaoui. "We are not saying this as cycling fans, we are saying this as sports fans."
These are guys – your Julian Alaphilippes, your Wout van Aerts and your Mathieu van der Poels – that you can watch without understanding a single thing about cycling and think that is dynamic or think that's pretty brilliant.
And Van der Poel’s win represented a confirmation of the Dutchman’s place at the pinnacle of the sport, added Wiggins.
“He was always expected to do this,” said Wiggins.
He's just reconfirmed that he is the greatest cyclist in the world at the moment.
"He is very special, very unique and he's now carrying the sport in his hands for the next 10 or so years. He will be the greatest Dutch cyclist by the time be retires."
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His effervescence off the bike, coupled with his brilliance on it, broadens his appeal, added Chennaoui.
“He is that funky little kid! He's a dude, you know, he's cool, he can dominate any discipline, but it is how he reacts to it [winning]. You cannot help but fall in love with it,” said the lead presenter of Eurosport's cycling coverage.
The contrast between his on-bike persona with his personality away from competition sets the Dutchman alongside some sporting greats, added Wiggins.
“The way he rides the bike is so aesthetically pleasing - the aggression and anger he shows when he's racing - but off the bike [he shows a sort of] adolescence.
"Sometimes it's how they [sporting greats] are off the bike that warms people to them. And that's true of anyone in any sport, whether that be Diego Maradona or Freddie Flintoff - it's the human side of them off the bike that’s what attracts people to them. I think that makes you fall in love with them."

'I have no words' - Van Der Poel in tears after epic Stage 2 win

The individual brilliance of Van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe and others could be redefining racing, added Wiggins.
"Are the days of Ineos and Team Sky and taking control of the race, the dominance, over now? Because of the way the style of racing has changed," posited Wiggins.
Elsewhere on the pod, Wiggins, Chennaoui and Willgoss discuss the fan who caused a huge pile-up on Saturday's Stage 1, Ineos's struggles and the chance of Mark Cavendish adding to his haul of 30 stage wins at the Tour.

‘Stupid! Chaos!’ – Fan causes huge crash that brings down entire peloton


When Mathieu van der Poel attacked on the first of two deciding ascents of the Cote de Menehiez at Mur-de-Bretagne it looked like he had gone too early. But the Dutchman snared the bonus seconds over the summit which gave him a chance of taking the yellow jersey the second time round – and the 26-year-old Tour debutant delivered in style.
Countering an attack from Nairo Quintana inside the final kilometre, Alpecin-Fenix’s Van der Poel roared clear of his rivals to win Stage 2 with a gap of six seconds over a deluxe chasing trio of Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The French race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) led a chasing group home a further two seconds back to take fifth place one day after his superb win in the opening stage at Landerneau. By missing out on the bonus seconds over both passages of the summit, the world champion conceded his yellow jersey to his Dutch rival. Alaphilippe will now start Monday’s third stage not in his rainbow bands but in the green jersey after he consolidated his lead in the points classification amid all the activity.
It was an emotional win for Van der Poel on the second day of his Tour de France career, the 26-year-old having stuttered to 20th place on Saturday’s opening stage while his Alpecin-Fenix team wore a special purple and amber kit paying homage to his late grandfather, the former cyclist Raymond Poulidor.
And on crossing the finish line after securing his first Tour stage win, Van der Poel pointed to the sky as he remembered the man called “PouPou” – who famously never wore the yellow jersey during his long and otherwise illustrious career.
“I have no words. I really don’t know what to say,” a stunned Van der Poel said after the stage. “I gambled a little bit. I went on the first climb because I knew I needed the bonus seconds if I wanted the jersey. It was my last chance to get it.”

'I have no words' - Van Der Poel in tears after epic Stage 2 win

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