Eneco Tour Stage 7: Lampaert 3rd on Cobbled Climbing Stage, Alaphilippe Top 10 GC
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Yves Lampaert went away with Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team) and Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) at the top of Muur van Geraardsbergen, one of the several cobbled climbs of 188.6km Eneco Tour Stage 7 on Sunday, and managed a hard earned 3rd place in the stage. The trio stayed away until the finish line after going up the road with about 46km remaining.
Quinziato saw the chance to attack with 5.4km to go, and a 1'05" advantage to the peloton. The three riders always had a strong gap to the rest of the field, despite chasers trying to close the gap earlier in the stage. Leukemans initially stayed with Quinziato, but was unable to maintain the pace and dropped. Lampaert, meanwhile, could not maintain contact either. But Leukemans and the Belgian rider from Etixx - Quick-Step kept chasing full gas until the finish. Quinziato had enough of an advantage to win the stage over his two former break mates.
Julian Alaphilippe, meanwhile, finished 10th in the general classification after sprinting for the minor places in the last few hundred meters. He finished 5th in the stage, which moved the French rider into the top 10 of the overall. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) won the Eneco Tour.
"It was a close race today," Lampaert said. "It was a hard race for the breakaway. The first time on the Muur van Geraardsbergen we went full gas and only Quinziato, Leukemans, and I could stay in front. We worked well together. I was the youngest of the three. Then Quinziato attacked. I had a difficult moment. I had to let Quinziato ride and try to return to Leukemans, but we couldn't work together to close the gap to Quinziato. We came about 20 meters too short at the finish. It's very sad. Maybe if we worked together we could have caught him, but these things happen in cycling. It's good for me that I ended with a top 3 result, even though the goal is always to win. It shows I have good legs coming back from a rest period. That is important looking to the next races on my calendar."
"Today's race was difficult, it really hurt my legs as it did for everyone," Alaphilippe said. "The team was good. We had Yves was in front of the race, and we stayed ready in case of the sprint for the victory with Tom. But, the breakaway decided the stage, so I stayed concentrated on a good placing to move into the top 10 of the classification. I finished 5th, so I am happy that I accomplished my goal. This gives me a good boost of morale for the next races, knowing my condition was good at Eneco Tour and it showed in my performance."