The World Champion looked back on his victory on stage 2 of the Tour de France, which netted him another spell in the yellow jersey.
Winning stage 2 of the Tour de France was where my second part of the season properly began. I finished runner-up in Milano-Sanremo, had some good days at the Dauphiné and came third at the National Championships, but that victory in Nice gave me wings and put me on the right track for that condensed last two months of the year.
Last year, when I saw the parcours, I was really excited about it and already targeted that stage as one where I could get another Tour de France win. It had a hard route, with a hectic final, but it suited me and wanted to do the most of it. At the start of the day I was very motivated, knew what I had and wanted to do, which was to attack in the final, although I was aware it wasn’t going to be easy, with two longer climbs before the last one.
Coming into the race, I had put all my hopes and expectations into this stage, but despite this I was pretty relaxed and very focused, knowing I could rely on a very strong team, which worked tirelessly for me. The guys did an amazing job the entire day and protected me, before Bob and Dries softened up the peloton as I prepared my attack. I chose the steepest part of the climb and despite being joined by two other riders, I was very confident, especially as there was some significant daylight between us and the bunch.
As the kilometers went by, I knew that a win would bring me also the yellow jersey and I kept my focus and did the right steps in the final kilometer, even as the peloton was closing in and the tensions was building up. To pull it off on the opening weekend of the Tour de France was amazing! It had been a difficult summer for me from a personal standpoint and that’s why immediately after crossing the line I got overwhelmed by emotions. Nothing can compare to 2019, but the sheer joy and raw happiness the yellow jersey brings every time you wear it is something very special. That victory was something I needed, a win that ended up playing a huge role in my successful season.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images