Slumped on the ground after the finish line in Cahors and then downcast during the post-race interview, Jasper Philipsen rued the missed chance to take the second Tour de France stage win of his career on Friday, having come up short after being caught napping by Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma).
The Belgian Alpecin-Deceuninck rider was best of the rest after Laporte leaped across to a fading breakaway of Fred Wright (Bahrain-Victorious), Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), then used that as a springboard to victory on stage 19.
Philipsen put in a long sprint which drew him clear of the others in the bunch but still saw him cross the line one second behind Laporte.
Speaking afterwards, he said that he was caught out by the Frenchman’s move, which had a better than usual chance of success due to the attritional pattern of racing and the resulting lack of support for the sprinters in the finale.
“It took me by surprise. I think it was a bit of chaos and looking for the leadout guys still left. I think there were not many teams left with a guy to help,” he said, explaining what happened when Laporte launched.
He also said that an error on his part compounded things, making it even harder to win.
“It was a chaotic final. It was technical. I made a mistake taking not the best corner, and that cost me the victory, maybe,” he said.
The 24-year-old has had a solid season thus far, winning two stages and the points classification in the UAE Tour, taking one stage plus the points competition in the Tour of Turkey and also topping the podium on stage 2 of the Baloise Belgium Tour.
He clocked up the first Tour de France stage win of his career on stage 15 of the Tour de France, winning ahead of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and the rest of the bunch into Carcassonne.
Frustrated as he was on Friday, he remains focussed on the Tour’s final stage on Sunday, where he will have a chance to go for the victory in Paris.
It’s the most famous finishing gallop in cycling and he takes his sensations from stage 19 as a morale booster for the race’s conclusion.
“I am looking forward to the Champs-Élysées. It is the nicest sprint, so hopefully good legs there,” he said. “I think it was clear in the finish line that I had good legs.
“It was not enough for the victory, but maybe I have a new chance.”