The Belgian crossed the line victorious for the second time this year.
The penultimate day of the Tour of Britain witnessed another tactical masterclass of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, who took the spoils in Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland, which hosted a stage finish for the first time since the event was relaunched in 2004 – for our team’s 24th victory at the race.
For the second consecutive day, the Wolfpack had two members in the breakaway, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Davide Ballerini and Belgian ITT Champion Yves Lampaert attacking from the off and building a maximum gap of eight minutes together with their five companions.
At first, the peloton didn’t look troubled by the margin of the escapees, but a change of pace with 80 kilometers to go saw the advantage of the men up the road tumble to just four minutes by the time they crested Wanside Rig, thus putting the chasers into the driving seat, especially as the final 50 kilometers brought more short climbs, which even though lacked steep ramps, were hard enough to pour lead in the already tired legs of the escapees.
However, on the descent they managed to stretch their margin to over five minutes, which pretty much spelled the end of the bunch’s hopes of bringing the race back together. Inside the final 15 kilometers, attacks started flying from the group, first Ballerini trying his chance, before Yves put in a dig of his own that made that much wanted selection. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) was quick to jump into his wheel, and Matthew Gibson (Ribble Weldtite) joined them a few kilometers later.
The Brit tried to dispatch Yves several times, but the 30-year-old Belgian remained cool as a cucumber and closed down all these attacks, before opening his sprint more than 200 meters from the line, easily outkicking his opponents and nabbing his 13th victory in the pro ranks. Some 30 seconds later, Ballerini finished fourth, while World Champion Julian Alaphilippe came home with the peloton and retained his third place in the general classification.
“It was a hard and long stage, with a lot of wind, small roads, many climbs and no flat, but we worked well in the break and this allowed us to build that substantial gap over the bunch. Having Davide there was very important, a big advantage, and it’s also thanks to him that I could pull off this win after we’ve been close several times this week”, a smiling Yves said after the stage that put Deceuninck – Quick-Step at the top of the team classification.
“We started attacking each other in the final 15 kilometers. When I went, only Jorgenson could respond and together we rode full gas, putting some seconds into the others. Then Gibson came and complicated things a bit, as it’s never easy to manage a situation where you have more than one opponent to watch, but I stayed calm and kicked out from his wheel quite early, with 200 meters to go, as I felt there was still enough power in the legs”, continued Yves, who dedicated his victory to his one-month-old son Aloïs. “This success is special for me, because I knew it was coming for some time now and I’m happy I could finish it off for the Wolfpack. I worked a lot for the team in many races this year and I’m delighted I could take the victory today, as it gives me a lot of confidence for the last races of the season.”
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