Mike Teunissen says that taking yellow ahead of Peter Sagan on Tour de France 2019 stage one made it an even more enjoyable day.
The 26-year-old took a shock victory ahead of three-time world champion Sagan, becoming the first Dutchman in 30 years – since Erik Breukink in 1989 – to wear the yellow jersey.
He took that honour instead of his compatriot and team-mate Dylan Groenewegen, Jumbo-Visma’s lead sprinter, after he crashed with just 1.5km to go.
Teunissen then took it upon himself to try and deliver a high placing on the stage for the team, and eventually managed to edge out a top-class sprinting field that included Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) as well as Sagan.
“[The crash just happened next to me],” Teunissen said.
“I don’t know what happened exactly, but just kind of bikes hitting into each other and I was able to swerve around it. I didn’t see much yellow around me anymore, so I was looking to see if I could see him [Dylan Groenewegen] or not and I then heard that he’d crashed.
“At that moment it’s really strange because all the work you’ve been going for for quite a long time suddenly it’s gone. I felt good and I just thought the least I could do is make something out of it. I was really relaxed in the last K because there was nothing to lose for me personally – it was mission failed already – and then suddenly it opened up I had a lot of power.
Teunissen, who also took his maiden Grand Tour victory along with the lead of the 2019 Tour, said Sagan was quick to congratulate him despite missing out on his 12th career stage win and a third stint in the yellow jersey after wearing it in 2016 and 2017.
Sagan took up his sprint from behind Michael Matthews in the reduced bunch on the 194.5km stage into Brussels, but appeared to commit too early with Teunissen able to come around Sonny Colbrelli and accelerate to beat the Slovakian to the line.
“First he [Sagan] congratulated me and then he said was a really nice, exciting sprint,” Teunissen said.
“Of course he’s one of the biggest cyclists ever so to get the jersey over him makes it even more special on an already special day.
“I came into second position and I saw Sagan going slower than me so I thought actually I can win here. I just went for it and threw myself at the line.
“I know my position though, I’d never beat him in a normal sprint.”