Jesper Philipsen in search of the success factor

Jesper Philipsen in search of the success factor
Jesper Philipsen in search of the success factor

The favourite to succeed him in the green jersey of the Grande Boucle, the Belgian flirted with victory on several occasions without managing to secure it.

Crash, second places and declassification, Jasper Philipsen has experienced almost everything during this eventful first week of the Tour. Only victory eludes him, the man with four bouquets last year. Within the Alpecin-Deceuninck team, the mayonnaise – which had taken in 2023 – has not changed its recipe. The vice-champion of Belgium on the road is surrounded by teammates at his service and a world-renowned pilot fish in the person of Mathieu Van der Poel.

The two men speak the same language – that of cycling – and have a special relationship.I like working and riding with him (Jasper), like in the classics, we get along well. He trusts me and follows my wheel, it makes my job easier,” launched Raymond Poulidor’s grandson on Tuesday evening. Lucid, “VDP” has not lost its main objective. That of launching Philipsen towards victory: “Tomorrow (Wednesday) will be a new opportunity for us, we are motivated to win. Monday, we were not very lucky, with my puncture and Jasper’s fall.”

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Cavendish takes first success

No sooner said than done. The Alpecin steamroller got into working order on Wednesday, as it approached Saint-Vulbas – the arrival town of the 5e stage. But a bone named Mark Cavendish thwarted Jasper Philipsen’s plans. In typical Astana style, the Astana rider stood on the pedals to cross the line in the lead. A sudden effort of a few meters, which surprised everyone, synonymous with a record.

At 39, the Briton signed his 35the victory in the Grande Boucle, beating Eddy Merckx by one unit. “Congratulations Mark for this historic performance. A great guy who broke my Tour record”commented the five-time Tour winner in grand style after the Sir’s performance. The “Cannibal” was not the only one to react to this moment of history. Jasper Philipsen – beaten on the pedals – showed himself to be a good sport.I don’t know if Cavendish was the fastest and if I could have beaten him, but I was beaten fairly. He deserves his victory, he confided without dwelling on the question. His record? He achieved it, that’s the most important news of the day.”

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Philipsen, taken over by the patrol

Frustrated by his second place the day before, the Belgian vice-champion was looking to set the record straight on Thursday during the sixth stage between Mâcon and Dijon. But his dangerousness – which has earned him a good number of complaints in the past – has resurfaced. His Belgian counterpart Wout van Aert paid the price. “I was locked up again by Jasper Philipsen, it’s one of his bad habits. He smelled me and went to the barriers, it’s not professional” said the Visma Lease a Bike rider. An uncontrolled thirst for victory that earned Philipsen a downgrade and a loss of 13 points for the green jersey classification following the unanimous decision of the jury.

A sanction, first of all, accepted by the main person concerned, who had once again finished second: “The jury found that my behaviour that day was dangerous, and I am sure that this was decided in good conscience.” A hot response that left room for dismay.It was a serious accumulation of depressions, you can say that. At no time did I intend to endanger a colleague. That is why these decisions hit me so hard. I feel targeted. Much worse things have happened in the past, Philipsen was saddened in the columns of The Importance of Limburg . “So far I have been sprinting purely instinctively. I fear that it will become more difficult and that I will have to become more aware of my movements during such a final sprint.”

Touched but far from sunk

It was with low morale that the four-time 2023 stage winner got back on his two-wheeled racing car. On Saturday in Colombey-les-deux-Eglises, the Belgian once again failed to come in second place after a false flat finish. Last year’s headliner, he seems destined to play second fiddle. A runner-up spot, which he fully intends to leave vacant.There are still five chances for the sprinters and therefore many points to be won. Girmay is doing very well, but something can always happen,” he said optimistically.

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To hope to recover its asset, acquired last year, Philipsen will have to deploy in the face of the tough competition present during this 111th edition. The current wearer of the green jersey – Biniam Girmay – has made this jersey a priority.At the beginning of the Tour, the green jersey was not an objective, now it is 100%“, announced the Eritrean. After a tough first week, the fight for the points classification is likely to intensify before the final arrival in Nice on July 21. In search of success, Philipsen will have the opportunity from Tuesday – between Orléans and Saint-Armand-Montrond (10th stage) – to find his colors again. Green in his sights.

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