Time trial reshuffles Belgium Tour GC
Quick-Step Floors will go into the penultimate stage of the race with three riders in the top 10 overall.
Last man to roll down the ramp for the 13.4km-long individual time trial held in Beveren on a pan flat course with no difficulties, Philippe Gilbert put in a strong ride and finished just outside the top 10 on the stage won by Matthias Brandle (Trek-Segafredo) ahead of Tony Martin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems-Crelan), who took over the red jersey.
Runner-up on the thrilling stage 2, Gilbert started the day as the overall leader, but moved down to fourth after Friday's race against the clock, whose route didn't play into his favour. Best Quick-Step Floors rider was French neo-pro Rémi Cavagna, a two-time U23 National Champion, who posted the fifth-fastest result in Beveren, only 21 seconds off the pace.
21-year-old Cavagna, a top five finisher earlier this season at the Vuelta a San Juan time trial, didn't hide his satisfaction at the end of the stage: "I feel good and I am happy with this result. It was a good time trial for me, on long, straight roads, and thanks to my ride I cracked the top 10 overall. This gives me an even bigger motivation for the next two days, when we want to score some more nice results."
Yves Lampaert also got himself infiltrated in the top 10, confirming his prowess in the time trial, while Julien Vermote cemented his ninth place in the general classification. Julien, together with Gilbert (4th) and Cavagna (7th) will now give the team several cards to play on the challenging stage 4 (Ans – Ans, 167.8 kilometers) of the Belgium Tour.
"I did the maximum, but the parcours didn't suit me. I like a course with corners, which forces you to change the rhythm, but today's stage was one for the specialists. I lost some time, but not so much in the end. We'll see what tomorrow brings, but one thing that's certain is having many guys in the upper part of the standings could be an advantage for us", said Philippe Gilbert after the stage which helped Quick-Step Floors extend its lead in the team rankings.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele