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Tour de France: 'I was also positioning myself to sprint at the finish' says Van Aert

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Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) stage 1 start at the Tour de France

Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) stage 1 start at the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Wout van Aert talks to media ahead of the 2019 Tour de France

Wout van Aert talks to media ahead of the 2019 Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Steven Kruijswijk, Wout van Aert and Dylan Groenewegen

Steven Kruijswijk, Wout van Aert and Dylan Groenewegen
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) goes down in a crash with under 2km to go of stage 1 at the Tour de France

Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) goes down in a crash with under 2km to go of stage 1 at the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Mike Teunissen (Team Jumbo-Visma) wins stage 1 and takes the first yellow leader's jersey at the Tour de France

Mike Teunissen (Team Jumbo-Visma) wins stage 1 and takes the first yellow leader's jersey at the Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Jumbo-Visma lead-out man Mike Teunissen's surprise win on stage 1 of the Tour de France on Saturday could as easily have gone the way of teammate and Tour debutant Wout van Aert, who said that he was also preparing to sprint for the victory after the team's main sprinter, Dylan Groenewegen, crashed out of contention in the final kilometre.

In the closing 30 or 40 metres of the race, both Teunissen and Van Aert could be seen mixing it with the world's best sprinters, with Van Aert at one point looking like the best-placed Jumbo-Visma man – although the situation quickly changed, the young Belgian admitted.

"We didn't have a plan B. We were all in for Dylan," Van Aert said. "I saw Mike near the front, and I was also positioning myself to sprint, but I was in the wind too early.

"When I wanted to launch my sprint, Mike did the same, and passed me," he continued. "I saw that he had a better chance than me. I was unable to deliver him in the sprint, but he didn't need it.

"We'd hoped for yellow, but we didn't expect that it would be with Mike. It just proves how strong we are in depth," Van Aert said, who eventually finished 16th on his first-ever Tour de France.

Jumbo-Visma's main GC rider, Steven Kruijswijk, was happy to have been able to stay safe and keep his powder dry on Saturday's opening stage, while expressing both concern for his fallen teammate – who's expected to be able to start Sunday's second-stage team time trial, despite his considerable road rash – and joy at having taken the stage win and the race's first yellow jersey through Teunissen.

"I didn't see much," he said of Groenewegen's crash. "It's always hectic in the final kilometres, and then suddenly I saw Dylan on the ground. He looked devastated, obviously. I hope he's all right, but I don't know much more. It's sad for Dylan, but, as a team, we can be very happy that Mike still won.

"The main goal was to win the stage and get the yellow jersey," Kruijswijk reiterated. "We decided to take the race on day-by-day and then set our goals. Today our goal was to win the stage, and tomorrow [Sunday] the goal is to win the stage. From there, we'll then look further ahead."