Julian Alaphilippe admits that Mathieu van der Poel 'was simply stronger' on stage two of Tour de France

The Frenchman lost yellow but remains in the lead of the points classification

Julian Alaphilippe
(Image credit: Getty)

Julian Alaphilippe had no complaints with losing the yellow jersey at the Tour de France to Mathieu van der Poel, claiming his great rival deserved to triumph on stage two

Van der Poel attacked twice in the final 20km of the stage, the first time to take essential bonus seconds on the first ascent of the Mûr-de-Bretagne, and the second time to solo to victory with a margin of eight seconds.

Alaphilippe, who won the opening stage convincingly, was unable to respond to Van der Poel's successful move and now sits eight seconds behind the Dutchman on the general classification.

The Deceuninck - Quick Step rider, however, was not in a downbeat mood after the stage. 

>>> Tour de France standings: latest results from the 2021 edition

"I'm not going to make excuses for myself, but I climbed the first lap [of the finishing circuit] really hard," he said. 

"I tried to follow Mathieu on the first climb but I felt that the legs were not exceptional. 

"So, I tried to save as much as possible for the end. I did the maximum I could. Mathieu was simply stronger. That's why I'm not disappointed, I have no regrets because I gave everything."

Van der Poel's victory was a significant one for him and his family, the cyclocross world champion doing what his late grandfather Raymond Poulidor was unable to do: wear the yellow jersey as the leader of the race.

The emotion was not lost on Alaphilippe who added: "With Mathieu, we are two riders who fight each other all year round.

"We ride in the same way. He went for the win and he deserves it. Congratulations to him.

"Yesterday, Mathieu was disappointed because he didn’t win, but he felt happy for me - and today it’s my turn to feel the same."

Alaphilippe may now be second on GC, but the world champion will wear the green jersey on stage three as a result of leading the points classification. He is just the sixth rider to have won all of the leader's jerseys in the Tour.

"The yellow jersey is exceptional, it's great and magical, but it requires a lot of responsibility," he added.

"It's always nice to have a distinctive jersey on the Tour. I believe I have worn all the distinctive jerseys since I started on the event."

Pogačar satisfied with time gains

Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogcar on stage two of the 2021 Tour de France

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Tadej Pogačar moved into third on GC and now holds a narrow one-second advantage to Primoż Roglič, the man he beat to the title in 2020.

The Slovenian was happy with how he rode on stage two and backs himself in the coming stages.

"I would have liked to win, but I am also happy to see Mathieu van der Poel win," the 22-year-old said. 

"It would have been difficult for me to win today, because there were many guys following my every move. 

"In the end I took the second place, and I’m happy with that. It was a surprise for me to see Mathieu attacking on the first climb, even if he joked at the beginning of the stage with me that we three [Pogačar, Roglic, Van der Poel] should go on the attack today. 

"I’m happy with where I am right now. I’m pleased with my shape and with how my Tour de France is looking."