Gilbert moves onto Tour de France overall podium
Third on the tough finish into Quimper, the experienced Belgian is a mere three seconds from the yellow jersey.
The peloton got to spend a second consecutive day in the beautiful Bretagne, for a stage (Lorient – Quimper, 204.5 kilometers) that despite being sprinkled with 15 short climbs, five of which were classified, was all about the final kilometer. Côte de Stang Bihan averaged 4.8%, but with the last 200 meters being gentler, the big moves were expected earlier, and as the road kicked up, it was Philippe Gilbert who accelerated on this Ardennes-type hill.
Coming out of a corner, the 2012 World Champion opened a slender gap on the chasers, but the others responded and overhauled him with 500 meters to go. The yellow jersey led the field onto the final stretch, before Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) came off his wheel to claim the victory ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
Gilbert came across the line in third position – with teammate Julian Alaphilippe (who took important bonifications at the second intermediate sprint of the stage) just two places down – for his sixth podium of the season, one during which the 36-year-old Belgian has played a key role in Quick-Step Floors' triumphs, be it Classics or stage races.
"We knew today's stage was billed as a mini version of an Ardennes Classic, so we were up to the challenge and ready to do something. Going into the last climb I was in a good position and I was hoping to surprise my opponents with an attack, but it was really difficult with the headwind and two guys proved to be stronger at the end of the day", said Philippe after helping Quick-Step Floors retain the top spot in the team standings.
With two victories and two more podiums in the bag after the five stages of the Tour de France, the Wolfpack is hungry for more, as Philippe underlined before climbing onto the bus: "So far, we enjoyed a great run, but we also know we could have had more. This week isn't over and the coming stages present other opportunities, so we'll keep trying, although you need also some luck, not only to be the best on the day."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images