In his first Tour, Alpecin-Fenix ​​immediately has the yellow jersey in his ranks. Sports director Christoph Roodhooft also had to recover from Mathieu van der Poel’s triumphal procession.

“Ride profit was still calculated,” he admits. “But that Mathieu would take bonus seconds and win the stage and Alaphilippe would not finish in the top 3, was a scenario that we had devised, but had not dared to pronounce.”

With Tim Merlier, Alpecin-Fenix ​​also hopes to hit the mark in the 3rd stage, even though the sprinter is still licking his wounds after the massive crash in the opening stage. “Merlier has not yet fully recovered, but we have decided to give him confidence today,” said Roodhooft.

Merlier, still good for a stage win in the Giro, does not dare to make big predictions. “We’ll see how good I am in the stage,” he says. “I still feel fitter than yesterday. It will be a matter of being in position and hopefully being able to do my sprint.”

Jasper Philipsen has to leave this sprint opportunity to his teammate. “If Philipsen were now 100 percent, the choice would have fallen on him”, Roodhooft clarifies. “But Jasper fell in the Tour of Belgium and is not yet one hundred percent fit.”

But the winner of the Scheldeprijs is convinced that his chances are yet to come. “Otherwise I might as well go home,” he laughs. “It’s not always fun that a choice has to be made.”

“Sometimes it would be clearer if only one card can be drawn. But we have to put the team first.”

Yellow jersey Mathieu van der Poel will stay out of the hustle and bustle of the sprint. “He should not interfere in the lead-out”, Roodhooft is clear. “He has to pay attention and try not to lose time.”

“That assignment is more than enough for him. Yesterday and the day before yesterday were taxing days, so it will be nice for him not to have any real assignments today.”

And that is what Van der Poel has in mind. “I will try to assist the team, but my job is mainly to get through the day as well as possible,” he confirms before the start.

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