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The Tour de France peloton is getting a little bit fed up. Jasper Philipsen keeps winning bunch sprints and no-one seems to know how to stop him.
On stage 11 the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider won yet again to make it four wins this July and extend his Tour bunch sprint record on flat run-ins to six in six when the final two sprint stages of the 2022 editions are taken into account. Although Mads Pedersen beat him in Limoges on stage eight, the finish was uphill as opposed to pan-flat.
Can he be beaten? Jayco-AlUla’s Dylan Groenewegen was second in Moulins and as he came back to his team’s bus, he screamed angrily as he walked up the steps. A few minutes later, he told Dutch media that “I am really sick of this. I would rather finish 10th than second. Our patience is now being tested.”
Reverting to English, he added: “We have to keep trying. That’s all we can do. I think there are two or three more [potential sprint] stages and we will fight until Paris.”
In third place was Phil Bauhaus, the third time that the Bahrain-Victorious rider has finished on the podium in his debut Tour de France. “If you win four out of four bunch sprints, you have to say he’s the fastest,” the German said of Philipsen, stating that the only thing he needed to beat the Belgian was “more speed in the final.”
He continued: “I think everybody is missing a bit of speed to beat him. I have been on the podium three times, I was one of the fastest, but maybe I missed those few hundred watts that Jasper had.”
Philipsen is the first sprinter to win four stages of the Tour since Mark Cavendish two years ago, and veteran Alexander Kristoff of Uno-X cast doubt on whether any other fast man will better the 25-year-old.
“He won again. Yeah, it’s going to be difficult,” Kristoff said. “He’s the fastest so when he also has the best team you know it’s going to be tricky.
“You never know what’s going to happen though: suddenly there’s a crash or something and you get a chance. We hope he gets tired, but he’s good on climbs so I don’t think so.”
At the start of the race it was assumed that Fabio Jakobsen of Soudal-QuickStep would be one of Philipsen’s principal rivals, but a stage four crashed has left the Dutchman battered and bruised.
He hinted at the end of stage 10 that he might be headed towards an early exit in this year’s Tour, and his leadout man Michael Mørkøv was evidently upset by Jakobsen’s failure to contest the finale in Moulins; Jakobsen finished 16th.
“It’s not frustrating that Philipsen wins - it’s frustrating that we didn’t contest for the sprint,” Mørkøv said. “Jasper has now won four out of four, which is nice for him, but I’m more concerned about ourselves.
“I believe he can be beaten. He was beaten before. But as we see sometimes with a sprinter who is on a roll and has the confidence, he becomes even stronger.”
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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