Tim Wellens takes the polka dot jersey!
Also most aggressive rider award after a day on the attack!
Tim Wellens took the victory in the time trial of the Belgium Tour today! In Grimbergen, the Lotto Soudal rider powered to his second victory against the clock. In a time trial which became a thrilling game of seconds, Wellens set a winning time of 10’46”, improving the time of runner-up Van Hooydonck with one second. With Victor Campenaerts, another Lotto Soudal rider finished in the top three today, the European time trial champion stopped the clock at 10’48” and completed the podium. Wellens and Campenaerts will start tomorrow’s Ardennes stage on place two and three in the general classification, respectively, at around one minute from leader Remco Evenepoel.
The almost pan flat 9.2 kilometres long course in and around Grimbergen was one for the powerhouses. Matthias Brändle set the first target time (10’52”) but not much later, the Austrian rider needed to leave the hot seat for Van Hooydonck. After a strong time trial, Victor Campenaerts finished at only one second from Van Hooydonck, who set a time of 10’47”. Tim Wellens was the final Lotto Soudal rider to leave the start ramp. After an impressive ride and a powerful sprint to the line, Wellens managed to beat the time of Van Hooydonck with one second! Remco Evenepoel, who remains the leader in the general classification, came near the time of Wellens but in the end, it was the Lotto Soudal rider who could celebrate his fourth victory of the season!
Tim Wellens: “After an earlier time trial victory in the Ruta del Sol, I managed to take my second win against the clock today. This performance proves that I took a significant step forward in the time trial area. Beforehand, I thought the time trial would be a little more crucial in the fight for the overall but due to the time losses yesterday, that is not really the case, or at least to a lesser extent. Nevertheless, it is of course a beautiful victory!”
“Tomorrow’s stage will be a little different due what happened yesterday. Then, I made a tactical error as I did not join Evenepoel and Victor. But with that, I certainly don’t mean that I was stronger than Remco because he was really impressive!”
“I will start with a one-minute disadvantage tomorrow. Of course we will race on my preferred terrain tomorrow but it will be difficult. Making up one minute on somebody who’s in great shape, is not an easy thing. Within the team we have - with for example Victor Campenaerts - some cards to play. We will do our utmost but it certainly won’t be easy.”
Victor Campenaerts: “Maybe I started a little too slow today. I got up to speed in the second part but there’s barely room for errors in a time trial of nine kilometres. I did not really feel to be suffering from yesterday’s crash but of course, I often ride a time trial after an easy stage or a long period of preparation. Yesterday, I had to spend a lot of energy and I also crashed. Remco Evenepoel put me - mentally - with both feet on the ground yesterday. I can say that I did not ride my best time trial today, which is not a fun thing of course. But in my development as a rider, I have to deal with situations like these. I will need to learn from that, something I certainly will try to do.”
In the sixth stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, an early three-rider breakaway battled for the victory. In a close sprint, the Frenchman Alaphilippe beat the Austrian rider Mühlberger. After the 229 kilometres long stage, the young Lotto Soudal rider Bjorg Lambrecht could step onto the podium to don the white jersey. The 22-year-old Belgian takes over the lead in the young rider classification from van Aert.
Bjorg Lambrecht: “In the first twenty kilometres of today’s stage, the pace was really high and in fact, the peloton did not really slow down during the really long stage. It went very fast on the final climb, where I was riding on the limit. To be honest, I had been thinking about taking over the white jersey from van Aert for quite a while. So, I am really happy that I could do so today. I think that Wout was a little spared today and also Politt had to let go pretty early. Then, it was about giving everything I had to make it to the top in the group of the favourites.”
“The next two days will be really tough. Tomorrow, there is a summit finish on a climb of around twenty kilometres. For me, it will be essential to give it my all the coming two stages, losing as little time as possible and that way trying to secure the white jersey. I will give my utmost and hopefully that will be enough to take the jersey home.”
This performance proves that I took a significant step forward in the time trial area.