When the first stage of the Tour de France is a flat road race, a rare opportunity for the sprinters to take the yellow jersey appears, with many dreaming of taking the race lead before the peloton heads uphill and the overall classification falls into the remit of the climbers.
As the bunch rolled out of Brussels on stage one of the 2019 edition of the French Grand Tour, Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma), Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) were the names on everyone’s lips as to who would take the stage win.
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However, after Groenewegen was taken down in a crash 1.5km from the line, his lead-out man Mike Teunissen was given a rare opportunity to focus on his own sprint at one of the biggest races of the year.
While Sagan looked like he had fought off his competitors as the bunch sprinted towards the finish, Teunissen came from behind to pip the Slovakian on the line, throwing his bike and beating the three-time world champion by inches.
Teunissen becomes one of the most unexpected wearers of the yellow jersey, with race commentators even calling the win for the Dutchman’s team-mate Wout van Aert as he crossed the line.
The 26-year-old will become a great pub quiz answer in years to come, but who exactly is Mike Teunissen? What has his career entailed up to this high-point?
As he momentarily becomes accustomed to the podium and has the honour of wearing the yellow jersey, h ere’s everything you need to know about Mike Teunissen.
The 26-year-old was born in 1992 in Ysselsteyn, a small village in Limburg in the Netherlands.
In 2013 he signed his first professional contract for the Rabobank Development Team, racing alongside Dylan van Baarle (Ineos) and Rick Zabel (Katusha-Alpecin). The Continental team operating as a development squad for the WorldTour outfit of the same name, now operating as Jumbo-Visma.
He spent two years with the development team, taking a number of impressive victories. He won the junior editions of Paris-Roubaix and Paris-Tours in 2014 before coming second in the u23 national time trial championships.
Teunissen made the move up to the senior squad in 2015, then going by the name LottoNL-Jumbo, where he took part in a number of high-profile races.
In the spring he failed to complete a number of classics races, not making it to the finish line in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Brabantse Pijl and Dwars door Vlaanderen and rolled across the line in 132nd place at La Flèche Wallonne.
Then followed a number of stage races, the Tour de Yorkshire, Tour of California and Tour de Suisse, finishing inside the top 100 in all three. His sole victory of the year came in the prologue of the Tour de l’Ain, with his next highest placed finish of the season coming at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, where he finished second to Jempy Drucker (BMC) in the bunch sprint.
August saw Teunissen’s first appearance in a Grand Tour, lining up for the Vuelta a España 2015 and finishing 104th, with Bert-Jan Lindeman providing the team’s highlight when he got in the breakaway on stage seven and attacked with 200m to the line to take the victory.
The following season saw Teunissen participate in more stage races despite not being taken to any Grand Tours, completing the Tour of Qatar, Tour of Oman and Tirreno-Adriatico in the early season. In the spring he finished his first Paris-Roubaix, coming 45th, and also secured a top 10 finish at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
Teunissen made the switch to German outfit Sunweb for the 2017 season, racing many of the same races in the first half of the year as he had for LottoNL-Jumbo. He did, however, make his Tour de France debut, racing in support of Dylan Groenewegen who picked up the win on the Champs-Élysées on stage 21. Primož Roglič also made his Tour debut that year for the Dutch team, winning stage 17 and finishing 38th overall while Teunissen finished 129th.
In his second season for Sunweb, Teunissen was runner-up at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) taking the win, before the Dutchman finished 11th at Paris-Roubaix. In August he rode his second Vuelta a España, again finishing outside the top 100, as his team-mate Wilco Kelderman secured a top 10 finish, 11 minutes down on winner Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Despite rumours that Teunissen was off to Bahrain-Merida for 2019, the Dutchman instead moved back to his old team, now called Jumbo-Visma, signing a four-year deal that would keep him there until 2022.
Teunissen raced a drastically reduced early season, not participating in nearly as many stage races as usual but improving his Paris-Roubaix result once again, finishing seventh after winning a sprint from a group including Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Zdeněk Štybar (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).
He then took his first professional stage race win, winning the fifth and sixth stages of the Four Days of Dunkirk to secure both the overall and points classification. Jumbo-Visma dominated the race, winning five of the six stages as Dylan Groenewegen secured a hat-trick of victories on the opening three days.
Teunissen followed this up with another victory at the Norwegian Hammer Stravanger, taking the first stage and placing sixth and fifth in the next two.
While many use the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse as their warm-up for the Tour de France, Teunissen headed off for his homeland’s ZLM Tour, finishing on the podium on three of the five stages, enough to take the overall victory, finishing 14 seconds ahead of team-mate Amund Grøndahl Jansen.
Teunissen continued this winning streak into his second Tour de France. After Groenewegen crashed 1.5km from the line on stage one, Teunissen capitalised on no longer having lead-out responsibilities by launching his own sprint and coming from behind to pip Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) to the line to take the win and the yellow jersey.
After Jumbo-Visma won the team time trial on stage two Teunissen was guaranteed the yellow jersey for a second day, taking a 10 second lead over team-mate Wout van Aert into stage three.