Wellens takes stage victory and leader’s jersey in Houffalize
Hattrick for Wellens in Houffalize.
The closing stage of the BinckBank Tour still shook up the general classification today. Tim Wellens - who started in Sint-Pieters-Leeuw in the leader’s jersey - eventually had to settle with third place in the overall standings, De Plus still managed to take the overall victory following a coup in the final local lap.
With a stage in and around Geraardsbergen, the riders had to overcome a tough final test. It was just before the final ascent of the Bosberg, that this year’s BinckBank Tour was decided. Then, just as the Golden Kilometre was about to start, De Plus went on the attack together with Naesen and Van Avermaet. The trio worked together really well and would eventually battle for the stage victory on the Vesten. Naesen sprinted to the win, De Plus was - thanks to his tactical move - crowned to the winner of the BinckBank Tour. Tim Wellens crossed the line some forty seconds after the stage winner, just enough to complete the overall podium with De Plus and Naesen.
Tim Wellens: “The entire week went according to plan, but with three riders still within twelve seconds, it would be a difficult mission today. It looked pretty good until the Golden Kilometre, where I made a bad judgement call by focusing maybe too much on Hirschi. I was happy that the bonification seconds were gone. I knew that De Plus would go full gas together with Naesen and Van Avermaet. I tried to close the gap, but it was already too big and I didn’t succeed in bridging to the three riders at the front. To be honest, I didn’t have the best feeling anymore in the final lap. I also felt a little less good compared to the previous days.”
“It is true that I did not have any teammates by my side in the finale, but the guys had already spent a lot of energy in the early parts of the race, in which there were a lot of attacks. Eventually, it came down to a battle man to man. I wasn’t there when De Plus attacked, which has cost me the overall victory. I can still be proud on my performance, which I delivered together with the team this week, but at the moment, it is a major disappointment to miss out on the BinckBank Tour victory. But De Plus of course deserved to win the race. You can’t say he stole the victory after the things he showed today and last Thursday, but for me it is a bitter pill to swallow at the moment.”