Brussel sprout wins.
It wasn’t Dylan Groenewegen, the start sprinter of Jumbo-Visma, who won the first stage and yellow jersey of the 2019 Tour de France. Sadly for the Dutch fastman, he went down hard in a crash just 1.5 kilometers from the finish.
Nor was it Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Elia Viviani who on a good day would have been expected to take victory in the big, fat 192 kilometer loop from Brussels to Brussels. Instead, he found himself out of position and way back in ninth place.
In the final few hundred meters it was the former world champion Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) who shot to the front ahead of Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) also making his move — until his pathway slammed shut.
In those final seconds of explosive speed and thousands of collective watts, it appeared that Sagan was a sure thing and would shortly slip on this first maillot jaune after eleven total stage wins.
But the little Brussel sprout got him. Not a star, but Groenewegen’s lead-out man Mike Teunissen. He came flying up Sagan’s left side and then tossed an even better bike throw than Sagan, winning by the thinnest of margins. Surprise, surprise — Jumbo-Visma went from disaster to yellow in under two kilometers.
Teunissen had stunned everyone including himself. “I saw everyone dying in the last meters – even Sagan I was catching up on. I just took him on the line and, like I said, it’s beyond imagining. It’s unbelievable.” Sagan was gracious but visibly upset, letting out a howl of frustration at the team bus.
There has been much talk — and fervent hope — that with the absence of four time winner Chris Froome (Team Ineos) the Tour de France would be a much more open, unpredictable race. What we can say after the first sprint stage, is that perhaps the sprints will also contain a few surprises.
For example, lead-out man beats star sprinters to yellow.