Moments after Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) blew away the field to win solo — yes, by himself, all alone in Paris, no other sprinters in camera view, he came to a euphoric stop.
His teammates swarmed him, smacked him on the back, shouted congrats and — was it Jasper himself? –who summed up the dramatic movement, winning the sprinter’s Super Bowl, on an brilliantly sunny day on the magnificent Champs-Élysées in the Tour de France. The soundbite was a roar: “Yeah, fucking-A, yeah!!!”
What sprinter is having more fun in this Tour than Jasper? He was so hyped and amped that he even prematurely celebrated what he thought as a victory way back on stage 4. Somehow nobody told him Wout van Aert had already snatched up that goodie bag.
Examine this year’s Tour de France sprinters — setting aside the all-world, do-everything Wout — and you’d have to say Jasper is the only one really having fun. Fabio Jakobsen took a stage win but still seems to be carrying some baggage and blame (see Dylan Groenewegen) for his life threatening crash two years ago in the Tour de France. Resurrection, yes but fun, no.
Speaking of Dylan Groenewegen (Team BikeExchange – Jayco), his sprint victory the very next day was an absolute tear-fest. He got the monkey off his back after enduring the social media hate and a near retirement due to depression. His win was a return the the sport but we didn’t see any emotional buoyancy. Massive relief isn’t the same thing as a badass grin of joy.
Then there’s poor Caleb Ewan, the lanterne rouge at Lotto Soudal. Have you ever seen a more unlucky sprinter? Two major crashes, barely making time cuts, dragging his injured body over the Alps and Pyrenees. His Tour was one long ride through pain, stress and abject failure. On the Champs-Élysées he gave it his best shot and earned fourth place. He can’t wait to go home and recover and wipe this Tour from his memory bank.
The normally ebullient and quotable Peter Sagan has gone from perennial green jersey to Mr Invisible. I recall that somewhere, in some sprint, he might have pulled out a fourth place? Not exactly what Total Energies had in mind when they wrote that big check and brought on Peter’s Entourage. There’s something disconcerting about Sagan as pack fodder.
Which brings us back to the happiest sprinter in this year’s, the only one to win two stages. His flawless bike throw was the difference in stage 15 to Carcassonne. He had that kind of genuine, wow, wow, wow kind of happiness you don’t always see with professional athletes. The Tour can be overwhelming but Jasper is in his own bubble of good times.
He certainly didn’t need a bike throw to win on the Champs-Élysées. He torched Groenewegen and Alexander Kristoff (Intermarché – Wanty). It was a one man show on the biggest stage in cycling for a 24 year old having the time of his life. A Fucking A.