When the first disappointment after the missed tour coup had evaporated, Phil Bauhaus was able to laugh again. “It was my first tour sprint. It was very messy. Everyone pushes the limit down to the last millimetre. For two or three seconds I believed that it could work. Second place is nice, but in the end you just want to win,” said the debutant, after rushing past his first stage win by a hair’s breadth on the first sprint finish at the 110th Tour de France on Monday.
Bauhaus had not even noticed that the jury was even briefly discussing the disqualification of the Belgian winner Jasper Philipsen because of a scuffle with compatriot Wout van Aert. A visit to the podium would have been the crowning glory for the 28-year-old Bocholter, who no one had in mind between all the sprint stars around Mark Cavendish and Co.
But Bauhaus threw everything into the sprint, pedaled with the last of his strength and pushed his racing machine towards the finish line. Half a bike length was missing from Philipsen, who had more stamina on the third stage after 193.5 kilometers from Amorebieta-Etxano to Bayonne. Third place went to Australian Caleb Ewan.
But what a courageous performance Bauhaus delivered. “I used Wout van Aert’s rear wheel as a guide. There were tough battles for positions,” said the German. It was very close between the two Belgians. “You made it pretty exciting again in the end,” said Philipsen about the jury’s deliberations.
Bauhaus only got its tour ticket in the Bahrain-Victorious team at the last minute, which had just come to terms with the tragic death of Swiss Gino Mäder at the Tour de Suisse. All for girls was the motto of the team. Bauhaus himself reported that he shed bitter tears after the death of his teammate. Mäder fell into a gorge during the Tour de Suisse in mid-June and died a day later.
The sprinter day had no effect on the overall standings. Two-time Tour champion Tadej Pogacar paused in his pursuit of every bonus second and remains second, six seconds off teammate and opening winner Adam Yates. In the first two days, the Slovenian gained a total of 11 seconds over Danish champion Jonas Vingegaard. The best German in the overall classification remains the former tour fourth Emanuel Buchmann.
In Bayonne, however, it was the sprinters’ turn, led by Philipsen. The 25-year-old had already won two stages of the Tour last year, including the prestigious sprint on the Champs Élysées in Paris. In doing so, he underscored his claim of wanting to be the best sprinter in the world.
Since its successful tour in 2022, Philipsen has continued to develop. He also played a role in the classics that year, even finishing second at Paris-Roubaix – behind teammate Mathieu van der Poel.
When returning to France, the tour entourage was also accompanied by security concerns, especially since there have been riots in France’s metropolises for days after the death of a 17-year-old during a police check. “We work closely with the authorities. I speak to the Ministry of the Interior morning, noon and evening. We remain focused and vigilant,” said Pierre-Yves Thouault, Vice-Director of the race. It’s good for the tour that Bordeaux, a major French city, will not be headed for until next Friday.
How vulnerable the tour is was shown on Sunday when strangers apparently distributed tacks on the street. Numerous professional cyclists had to change their wheels about 20 kilometers from the finish line due to punctures. Three drivers from the German Bora-hansgrohe racing team were also affected. On Monday, too, there was a striking number of punctures. The reason for this was initially unknown.
The sprinters can hope for a mass finish again on Tuesday when the fourth stage over 181.8 kilometers from Dax to Nogaro finishes at the Paul Armagnac motorsport race track. 800 meters it goes straight ahead slightly uphill at the end.