Dries Devenyns finishes 5th overall in Tour Down Under
Quick-Step Floors' rider defended his position on the final day and recorded the best result of a Belgian in this race since 2013.
The sixth and final stage of the Tour Down Under consisted of 20 laps which were run over the now traditional 4.5km-long circuit in Adelaide. A break formed in the opening kilometers, but was nullified just ahead of the first intermediate sprint, where several GC riders went for the bonus seconds in an attempt to go up a few places in the standings. Soon, two men were on the move and ensured themselves a buffer of two minutes, but that wasn't of much help once the peloton began a fast and furious chase.
With only three laps left, the duo were brought to heel as the sprint trains formed and took the front, marshalling the bunch so they could deliver their fast men in a good position. Quick-Step Floors amassed four riders at the front and controlled hostilities in the closing kilometers, before things took a chaotic turn on the wide roads of Adelaide, leaving every rider for himself with 200 meters to go.
Elia Viviani launched his sprint on the left side and a solid effort saw the 28-year-old Italian conclude the stage won by Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) in fifth place, for his fourth top 10 result this week, in what was Viviani's best outing in three appearances at the Tour Down Under.
After the race, sports director Rik Van Slycke made an analysis of Quick-Step Floors' sprint train in the first race of the 2018 season: "We had an important goal for this week, and this was to see how our sprint train would work with Elia in there. We got some answers and we hope things will go even better in the next sprints. We need to fine-tune some minor things, because otherwise both Elia and the team were always there in the final, from the People's Choice criterium to this last stage. The victory we took in Port Harbor showed that we are on the right track and gives us confidence for the future races."
Another rider to stand out this week was Dries Drevenyns, who carried the team's GC ambitions at the Australian race. Dries came into the race without any pressure and slowly began to make inroads in the general classification, with several strong displays in Uraidla and Willunga Hill, which helped the Belgian finish the first World Tour event of the season in fifth overall.
"A top five in this race, with the scorching temperatures and this quality field, it's a very good result for both Dries and the team. He coped with the heat, climbed well and deserved to finish this high in the standings. We are happy to leave the Tour Down Under with such a nice result in the bag", concluded Van Slycke.
Quick-Step Floors' adventure in Australia will continue next week, when the team will line out for the fourth edition of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, a race which we won in 2015.
Phot credit: © Tim De Waele/ Getty Images