A Grand Tour debutant, the 25-year-old Belgian finished in the top 10 on the testing stage 13.
The longest day of the 71st Vuelta a España (213.4 kilometers), which came just ahead of a complicated week-end, on which the general classification contenders will face several challenges, led to an awkward stage, rarely seen in a Grand Tour. As the bunch decided to take an off day, a 12-man move went up and despite not pushing a hard pace and soon enjoyed a 15-minute gap, which continued to grow until the finish in Urdax-Dantxarinea.
Yves Lampaert, who during the first half of the race guided Gianni Meersman to victory in Baiona and protected the team's GC leaders on the flat, went into the escape on Friday and put in a gutsy ride on the rolling terrain which took the riders through the Basque Country, but also for some short visits over the border, in France, on the same day in which the organizers announced that next year's edition will depart from Nîmes.
It was only in the final 30 kilometers that the front riders stopped working together, going instead for solo attacks. Michael Gogl (Tinkoff) and Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal) were the first to attack, but despite a 20-second advantage they were brought back by the chasers. The status quo continued for just a few more kilometers, until Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) powered away on a small unclassified climb and cranked up the pace, leaving his breakaway companions.
Despite losing the contact on another hill, Yves Lampert made it back to the chasing group thanks to his impressive descending skills, bridging across in the final kilometer, a twisty and uphill one. His effort netted the 25-year-old Grand Tour rookie a 6th place at the finish, where Yves arrived less than one minute behind the winner. It was the 9th stage (out of 13) at the Vuelta a España that Etixx – Quick-Step finished with a rider in the top 10 standings. Teammate David De La Cruz continues to rest in 9th place in the overall rankings, after concluding the day in the peloton, 34 minutes later.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele