Laurens De Plus animates Eschborn-Frankfurt
More than 200 days from his last race, the 22-year-old returned to action and what he showed augurs well for the rest of the season.
Tuesday afternoon, some two minutes down on race winner Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Laurens De Plus concluded the World Tour event in 63rd place. For him, it wasn't about getting a good result, but finding that much-needed confidence and taking again the pulse of the peloton after a training injury sustained in South Africa three month ago, when he was clipped by a truck, an incident which sidelined the talented Belgian just as he was leaving behind the injuries picked up in last October's Il Lombardia.
From pinning the number on his kit and pulling on the Quick-Step Floors jersey early in the morning to attacking over the top of the iconic Mammolshain climb and making it into the front group where he stayed with until ten kilometers to go, the 56th edition of Eschborn-Frankfurt (212.5 kilometers) – which this year put on the table a revamped route, made harder by the ten climbs jammed on the course – everything was a fresh start for Laurens, who by the time he had arrived at the finish line, found that old feeling which he was so eager to rediscover.
"In the beginning, I had to find myself again and the feeling in the bunch and corners but after 30 kilometers I forgot I've ever had a break, I was just back at it, feeling good and even enjoying the pain the in the legs. I am really happy I could be present in the race and breakaway after so many months off. I was surprised I could do so well on the climbs, although after 200 kilometers the hammer dropped and I was completely empty", a beaming Laurens De Plus said after concluding the hard German race.
Featuring prominently at the front in the final part of the German race and making the cut over the tough Mammolshain gave the 22-year-old a huge confidence boost ahead of his next appointment, the Tour of California: "After so many months away, I was a bit stressed and nervous before the race, but now I am just super excited to be back and I can't wait to go to the US, where I fly to Monday, after a few days of hard training coming up. It's really great to be back with the boys and the staff!"
Fernando Gaviria was Quick-Step Floors' best placed rider in Eschborn-Frankfurt. After Dwars door Vlaanderen winner Yves Lampaert chased down the last four attackers and brought the race back together, the Colombian found himself in a good position to fight for a good result, but misjudged the last corner after a motorbike created confusion with 400 meters to go and couldn't get in the mix anymore, finishing outside the top 10.
Despite this, Quick-Step Floors remain in firm control of the World Tour classification, having a hefty advantage over the other teams on the podium after 20 of the season's 37 events.
Photo credit: ©Sigfrid Eggers
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