Two days into the 2019 Tour de France and the Jumbo-Visma team conquered the Brussels Grand Départ. The Dutch team won the stage 1 sprint and stage 2 team time trial, and Mike Teunissen earned the yellow leader's jersey and the green points jersey, while Wout Van Aert is in the best young rider's white jersey, and the team occupy the top five places of the general classification.
Their crushing victory in the 27.6km team time trial on Sunday afternoon was a crucial performance in this clean sweep.
The team kicked off extremely fast in the TTT, distancing their rivals at more than ten seconds at the first intermediate point after 13km. At the finish, Jumbo-Visma's bonus over runner-up Team Ineos was 20 seconds. Shortly after crossing the finish line near the iconic Atomium, the riders fell into each other's arms.
"Tony Martin and Wout van Aert were super strong. Our job was easy: we just had to keep the speed high and keep an eye on the details. Because they were so strong, we had time to recover. It was remarkable to see how much power Mike [Teunissen] had in his legs. He was pedalling with ease. The yellow jersey clearly did something with him," Laurens De Plus heralded his team leaders.
"Tony Martin told me 'Mikey was really flying because of the jersey,' when we came off the podium. Obviously, it was a bonus for us to start as the final team, so we knew all the other times.
"At the first intermediate point we were nine seconds ahead so you know it was going well," De Plus explained.
When asked what more the team could expect at the Tour de France, De Plus laughed. "We've already won 10 per cent of all stages, which is fantastic. Also, it's a big difference for [Steven] Kruijswijk. Last year he lost 1:10 in the TTT and now he takes 20 seconds.
"We might be able to keep the [yellow] jersey for a while. It's a dream start for us. It's also proof for the development of our team. We will try to enjoy it with a glass of champagne tonight," De Plus said.
No doubt the champagne corks will be popping in the Van der Valk hotel in Diegem where the Jumbo-Visma team has been staying the last couple of days.
As said by De Plus, the team's time trial success can be credited mainly to stage 1 winner and overall leader Teunissen along with strong men Tony Martin and Van Aert.
Teunissen said he relied on Tony Martin's advice during the team time trial.
"Tony Martin is such a strong rider. He's got an incredible palmares which I can only dream. He's not only performing himself but also sharing his experience so that we can all perform to our best. I was nervous ahead of the start, and he told me to enjoy it."
Teunissen and Van Aert emotional after successful start to Tour de France
Mike Teunissen, 26, will enjoy another day in the yellow jersey during the third stage of the Tour de France.
"I expected a little bit more than yesterday to be in yellow after this stage. Even if we didn't win, I still had a chance to stay in yellow. The way it happened today is phenomenal. Every rider in the team won a stage now, so we're going to enjoy this," Teunissen said.
He is in the spotlight right now, but he's entirely down to earth and realised that he needs to enjoy it all.
"This is really special, and even if I can continue to wear it, it should never become normal," Teunissen said.
On the podium, he did take the time to joke around. "The podium wasn't wide enough for all of us, and I told the guys that I didn't mind to stand aside because I was already used to it," Teunissen said.
"No, I'm standing here right now, and the other riders are here too, but there are so many other people who allowed this to happen. If you see how many people are working for us at the bus, to get us ready for the time trial. Then it's also obvious that there are many more people in offices or at home. We're standing on the podium with eight riders, but there should've been about hundred people on it," Teunissen said.
Van Aert also expressed his emotion over the team's success during the Grand Départ. "It's a dream start. Winning the first stage when the Tour was in Belgium was fantastic and now this."
The Belgian rider was humble when he talked about his own performance. "We were really strong. It was up to Tony and me to do the longer pulls. That's easier said than done. Tony has got so much experience and confidence while I didn't know if it would work out. It was a good match. If you feel pain in a team time trial then it's good. I felt a lot of pain, so it's was really good. If it's going well, then it's possible to enjoy the pain.
"The extra reward for me is the white jersey. In the Tour de France, the smallest prize is valuable - obviously not a small price - it's very nice," Van Aert said in the mixed zone.
Despite his young age (24), Van Aert has already won a lot. He's a triple cyclo-cross world champion, and he was asked where he rated this result.
"A jersey is always more special, but being on the Tour podium is massive. I'll have to let this sink in before I can rate it really," Van Aert said.
He pointed out that this particular discipline and winning as a team were new for him. "Winning as a team caused a lot of emotions, especially when you see a rider like Tony Martin - who has won so much - fight the tears.
"Also for me, it was really special because I've never really done this in cycling. It was really nice. If you see how [Dylan] Groenewegen, De Plus and Amund [Grondahl] were up for it to do one more pull to the maximum before getting dropped is special. They are not below-par riders. Obviously, they dream of finishing in the group that crosses the finish line, too. I could not have imagined that this would be so emotional. It's really crazy," Van Aert said.
While being heralded on the podium with his teammates, Van Aert was congratulated by Tour de France legend Raymond Poulidor. The grandfather of Van Aert's cyclo-cross rival Mathieu van der Poel praised him.
"It was nice. I asked him if he wouldn't have preferred to see his Mathieu on this podium. He said that I deserved to be there and asked me if I would still do cyclo-cross, which I confirmed to him. He said that it was good. I've talked to him before, and he's always been very nice to me," Van Aert told Cyclingnews.
Tony Martin himself was his usual German cool by the time he reached the mixed zone, where the quadruple time trial world champion analysed the team victory.
"We were extremely well prepared and that helped us to be relaxed ahead of the time trial," he said. "We are in a great flow, and that's an additional bonus. The yellow jersey was almost like an extra rider in the team; it was giving Mike wings.
"There are many Dutch and German fans here in Brussels, so the atmosphere was fantastic. The Belgian fans love cycling. I haven't won that much the last few years, so this one surely is a highlight. I'm working a lot for the team. I know my job on the team, and this is a fantastic reward. I'm getting a lot back from the team but don't expect me to be riding in the picture," Martin said.
Regarding the third stage of the Tour de France, the Jumbo-Visma team is again a candidate for the victory in Épernay, as the Tour heads from Belgium to France on Monday, from Binche to Épernay. The uphill finish isn't the cup of tea for bunch sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, and before the race he said that Van Aert could have a go at those finishes. With Teunissen proving on Saturday that he can win a big sprint as well, things might have changed.
Teunissen joked about it, saying, "The white jersey suits Wout just fine."
Van Aert smiled and said, "Those Dutch guys, they're good at talking… Yellow suits him fine, indeed, and this white jersey isn't wrong either. I'm enjoying great form but tomorrow's stage suits him, too. If it all would be as easy like this, then it would be strange. Before the race, people were already telling me that I could be in yellow after the team time trial or after Monday, but I haven't thought about it. It's only now that it is a real option. It's only now that I want to talk about it. Anyway, it's good to have multiple cards to play. For now, we'll enjoy this victory and then decide what we will do tomorrow," Van Aert said.
Around noon on Monday, the Jumbo-Visma riders will line up for the start of the third stage near the belfry in carnival town Binche with the ambition of keeping their winning streak going.
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