Jasper Philipsen sprints to fourth stage victory at this year’s Tour de France
Jasper Philipsen made it four wins from four in pure sprint finishes at this year’s Tour de France as he took victory again on stage 11 in Moulins.
A rider nicknamed ‘Jasper the Disaster’ – not for his misfortune on the bike but for his clumsiness and the chaotic trail of belongings he is known to leave across the team bus – has, for the first half of this Tour at least, been Jasper the Master.
This time the Belgian was unable to lean on the outstanding lead-out provided by his compatriot and Alpecin-Deceuninck team-mate Mathieu van der Poel, said to be under the weather with a slight cold, but it made no difference as he chose the perfect wheel to follow in the finale.
Philipsen moved himself up in the last 600 metres, slotting in behind Dylan Groenewegen and then powering his way past the Dutchman on the final approach to the line.
The sprint finish to the 180km stage from Clermont-Ferrand meant no change in the fight for the yellow jersey, in which Jonas Vingegaard leads by 17 seconds from Tadej Pogacar.
But when it comes to the points classification, Philipsen’s advantage is now more than 100 points in the green jersey.
The 25-year-old has won all four of the flat bunch sprints so far, and was second to Mads Pedersen on the more challenging uphill sprint into Limoges on stage eight. This stage was seen as the last opportunity for the sprinters for at least a week, and it was one Philipsen did not want to pass up.
“It’s an incredible Tour so far,” said Philipsen. “I can’t realise how good it’s all going, I’m just super proud, really happy with my shape. To get through the final without problems is also a big challenge and we managed to do it already four times in a row so I’m super happy.
“So I can also win without (Mathieu)! But of course he makes it more easy. I had to find my wheel a little but, also finding the space it’s technical and a bit dangerous for crashing. I’m happy I can find a good wheel of Groenewegen and he opened up early so I could go over.
“There are maybe more sprint opportunities but also there will be guys going for the break, but I’m already so happy to take four and hopefully looking towards Paris I can keep this jersey. I think I made a good gap now (in the points classification) which gives me comfort going into the Alps.”
At the finish a slight split meant there was a seven-second gap between the first 17 riders over the line and a second group that included Vingegaard, but with Pogacar in close attendance the gaps at the top of the general classification remained the same.
Jai Hindley remains third, two minutes and 40 seconds down, with Carlos Rodriguez more than four minutes down in fourth. Adam Yates, Simon Yates and Tom Pidcock remain sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively.
That battle will resume later in the week as the Alps loom, with Thursday’s lumpy stage from Roanne to Belleville-en-Beaujolais tabbed as one for a breakaway, as was Tuesday’s stage 10, won by Pello Bilbao.
That stage had seen Vingegaard and Pogacar getting involved in some of the early attacks, but Vingegaard ruled out a repeat as he saves energy for the weekend.
“I think we will try to keep the jersey tomorrow obviously but I’m not going to do any crazy attacks,” he said. “We will try to save a bit for the weekend. I think especially Saturday and Sunday are super hard stages.”
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