So far, the 2021 Tour de France has been an emotional rollercoaster for the cyclists racing and the fans at home. If you’ve been captivated by the action, you’re not alone. On Monday, former pro Jens Voigt Tweeted: “This is my 24th Tour de France (17 as a rider/7 as a commentator). With almost a quarter of a century experience, I have to say—the first week of the Tour 2021 is the hardest, meanest, most demanding, most stressful & most dramatic I have seen in 24 years!! Period.”
Here are some of the biggest wins and saddest losses of the 2021 Tour so far:
Mathieu van der Poel in yellow
The day after he wore a kit dedicated to his late grandfather, Raymond Poulidor, Mathieu van der Poel took the stage win and yellow jersey. It was his first Tour de France, first stage win and first time leading the GC. Van der Poel was understandably emotional in the post-race interview.
Caleb Ewan at the line
It looked like the final sprint on Stage 3 could be a showdown between Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), but, within the final few hundred meters, both went down in a nasty crash.
As riders zoomed past the pair crossing the line, Sagan managed to get up but Ewan was left lying on the ground. A broken collar bone meant the end of Ewan’s tour, and Lotto—Soudal posted some very raw footage of the drive from Pontivy to the team hotel.
The Mark Cavendish story
Mark Cavendish’s (Deceuninck-Quickstep) comeback, the story everyone is talking about, is inspirational and heartwarming. Cavendish himself is not afraid to be honest about his feelings, which makes him even more endearing to fans who can’t help but get emotionally invested in his journey. On his first of three stage wins in this year’s Tour Cavendish was crying and in absolute shock.
After a second stage win, he was able to get through a brutal mountain stage, finishing just seven minutes ahead of the time cut and holding on to the green jersey with the help of his teammates.
Cav’s third sage win was thanks to a perfectly executed Deceuninck-Quickstep lead-out train, and he immediately thanked every team member, joyfully picking up Julian Alaphilippe.
Nic Dlamini’s Stage 9 finish
Nic Dlamini (Qhubeka-NextHash) was applauded as he crossed the Stage 9 finish more than 40 minutes outside the time cut. The South African rider crashed early in the day, and battled injuries to finish what would be his final stage of the 2021 Tour de France.
19h01, Nic Dlamini crosses the finish-line in Tignes. 👏🏽 pic.twitter.com/OCE4vyZCZR
— Daniel Friebe (@friebos) July 4, 2021
“It was just a bad day to have a bad day,” said Dlamini.
“I would have loved to finish the race because it is sad to finish this way. But for me, the most important thing was not to stop and ride until the finish regardless of being out of the time limit.”
In riding his first Tour de France this year, he became the first Black South African to compete in the event.
Ben O’Connor’s win
Australian Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) jumped up in the GC rankings as he rode to victory atop the Montée de Tignes, slotting into second place on the GC. “Just to be here in the first place is the first dream,” O’Connor said. “To achieve this today is testimony to everyone who’s believed in me over the years. It’s what you dream of and it’s so fulfilling and there’s so much joy. I’m loving every single moment.”
The support from his team car was an emotional mix of French and English as they encouraged the 25-year-old rider while he solo-ed to the win.