Tour de France: Lampaert shines in the Roubaix dust
Quick-Step Floors will go into the second week of racing as firm leader of the team rankings.
Utter chaos, utter madness, crashes, punctures, furious chases, attacks and counterattacks, stage 9 had everything to go down as one of the most memorable stages in the modern history of the Tour de France, and Quick-Step Floors were one of the main protagonists with the likes of Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert, Fernando Gaviria, Philippe Gilbert and Liège–Bastogne–Liège victor Bob Jungels.
Lampaert, a top 10 finisher at Paris-Roubaix, was the one who ignited the day's winning move, on the legendary Camphin-en-Pevele sector, inside the final 20 kilometers, prompting a response from John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) and yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet (BMC). While his teammates marked the accelerations of the riders who tried to shut down the trio, Lampaert pushed on together with his companions, extending their advantage to a full minute by the time they passed under the 10km-to-go arch.
While the trio kept distancing, Philippe and Bob jumped on the wheel of Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe), sensing there was a real opportunity to gain some time in the general classification. The newly-formed group opened an encouraging gap over the chasers, which at the end of the day helped Jungels move up to fourth in the general classification, just behind Gilbert, whose result was made even more impressive by the fact he crashed twice and had a mechanical when it came down to crunch time and the stage got turned upside down by the numerous accelerations of GC and classics riders alike.
At the front, Yves Lampaert took a convincing third in Roubaix, one of the most iconic towns in cycling, netting Quick-Step Floors' sixth top-3 finish at the current edition of the Tour de France, a result from which the 27-year-old rider – covered in sweat, dust and salt residue – took heart especially as he was hindered by a puncture in the second part of this gruesome stage.
"The heat and the wind made for a really hard day. There was quite the fight to get into a good position ahead of every section and I think I managed well. As I still had power in the legs, I decided to attack on Camphin-en-Pevele and was followed by two strong guys. I knew I had the last chance in the sprint, but third it's still a good result. Maybe I could have attacked again before the finish, but it's difficult now to look back and say where I could have made a move. Taking everything into account, it was a solid day."
Of all the GC contenders, Bob Jungels had the highest ranking at the end of the 156.5km-long stage between Arras and Roubaix – seventh – which wasn't necessarily a surprise, considering the 25-year-old Luxembourger is a former U23 Paris-Roubaix and showed incredible legs, self-confidence and composure as he bossed the northern cobbles despite a crash in which he lost some skin.
"It was a very nervous day, as everybody wanted to be in the front. I came down on the left side of my body in a corner after slipping and ended up getting some bruises, but it doesn't look so bad. It's a pity Yves was against some fast guys in the final, but third is a nice result and we also gained some time on all the other contenders, so overall we did well and I think we can be satisfied, considering all that happened", said Bob at the end of the stage which saw Quick-Step Floors maintain the first place in the team standings for the ninth consecutive day.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images