Vacansoleil-DCM starts good at 100th Tour de France
Danny van Poppel (3rd) enters by front door.
The Tour de France started of great for Vacansoleil-DCM with a strong third place in the opening stage for youngster Danny van Poppel. The success was complete with a lead in the team general classication and a break in which Juan Antonio Flecha represented the team. Bad luck was there for Johnny Hoogerland who crashed and had the doctor put stitches in his elbow.
“I was warned that it would be grazy and you can be sure that it was”, smiled Danny van Poppel straight after his great result while getting rid of his race nerves. “In the last ten kilometers the speed on my computer didn’t get under 65 kilometers an hour. As a sprinter you shouldn’t be scared and it was even more hectical with a possible changed finishline but I stayed focused. I decided to look at Kittel and other strong sprinters. My brother (Boy) and Kris (Boeckmans) did a great job helping me out in the final. This helped me get a perfect position and I managed to finish third.”
It surpried himself. “I just do what I have to do and sometimes I surprise myself. I prove here that I am fast. The fact that I had to stop sprinting for a second didn’t cost me the win because Kittel was too fast for me. The second place could have been possible. I came to the Tour for a good result and I got it in stage one. I will see how the rest of the days go and of course I believe in a win, but that would be something more likely to happen in a few years time.”
Jean-Paul van Poppel, father of Danny and Boy van Poppel and nine times stage winner at the Tour, praised the team work. “It all went like we had planned. It was good teamwork of our sprinters and Sergey Lagutin, who took them to their position in an excellent way. They did a great job. Of course we knew that some people would criticise taking a 19 year old but we believed that there is a place for youngsters in the Tour nowadays. You see it at several teams with riders of almost the same age. We monitor Danny very closely and if we see that it is too much we will take our responsibility”, concludes sports director Van Poppel.