Time trial victory for Wellens in Baloise Belgium Tour!
Bjorg Lambrecht on the podium of Critérium du Dauphiné to don the white jersey.
After he won the opening stage of the Ruta del Sol, Lotto Soudal leader Tim Wellens now also took the time trial win. He finished the 16.3 km between Mancha Real and La Guardia de Jaén in 22 minutes and 25 seconds. That way, he beat Astana teammates Jakob Fuglsang and Ion Izagirre with two and nine seconds, respectively. The 27-year-old Belgian extends his GC lead to seven seconds.
Wellens began the time trial with a five-second advantage on Fuglsang, Izagirre and Jack Haig. It promised to be a very intense battle against the clock to defend his yellow jersey. The course included the Alto de 7 Pillillas, a third-category climb. One and a half kilometres after the summit, Wellens came through as second at the intermediate point.
For a long while, Adam Yates had the best time, but Kruiswijk, Izagirre and Fuglsang even set a better time. All eyes were then on Tim Wellens, who gave his all during the final uphill slopes to the line. In the end, he improved the top time yet again with two seconds and he could celebrate for the second time this week. Tomorrow, the Lotto Soudal rider will start the queen stage from Armilla to Granada with a seven-second bonus.
Tim Wellens: “We prepared the time trial really well. To get a good view of the course, Kevin De Weert did a recon the day we arrived. The start was tough, then there was a descent and the end went uphill again. We made a plan to go for the victory here, but to put that into practice is another thing. It turned out perfectly though. It is fantastic to be rewarded for all the hard training work I did. This is my first time trial win as a pro and also my second victory in three days. Of course I am really happy with my shape and the results.”
“However, the advantage in the general classification is limited, so I expect that tomorrow’s 120 kilometres long stage will be a spectacle. I think the Astana riders will attack me already from the first climb. They have various riders who are well-positioned in the general classification. It will not be easy, but we will surely give our all to defend the lead. There are no bonus seconds to earn and the finish lies after a long descent, so that is to my advantage.”
In the Volta ao Algarve, there was a time trial scheduled as well. It was a course of 20.3 kilometres in and around Lagoa. Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) took the win, ahead of Søren Kragh Andersen and Yves Lampaert. Frederik Frison finished as first Lotto Soudal rider on a 24th place. The Slovenian Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) keeps his leader’s jersey.
It is fantastic to be rewarded for all the hard training work.