Yves Lampaert of Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl is the surprise leader of the Tour de France after winning the opening individual time trial in Copenhagen today, while Tadej Pogačar, seeking his third successive overall victory, finished third, the UAE Team Emirates rider taking time on all of his rivals.
Fellow Belgian Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma clocked the second fastest time on the 13.2km course in the Danish capital, while Ineos Grenadiers rider Filippo Ganna, winner of the past two world championships in the discipline, had to be content with fourth place, 10 seconds down on the winner.
Lampaert, aged 31, put in a time of 15 minutes 17 seconds for an average speed of 51.821 kph, with van Aert 5 seconds slower and Pogačar a further 2 seconds down on a day when the earlier starters had to contend with pouring rain, the roads still damp for those who set out later, with a number of riders crashing.
The defending champion was 8 seconds and 9 seconds quicker respectively than the Jumbo-Visma team leaders Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič, and 18 seconds faster than 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, who realised halfway through that he was still in the gilet he had been wearing during his warm-up – marginal losses, anyone?
Lampaert said: “My mind is exploding. I thought a top 10 would be great and now I beat all the best riders in the world. I‘m just a farmer's son from Belgium. To do this, I never expected it.
“The roads were really wet, the pot holes were full of water. I think I had the same conditions as the main favourites. Always in the corners I said, ‘Yves, go faster, trust in your tyres’.”
Thomas was less than impressed with his performance – and may possibly be well advised to steer clear of messages on his phone this evening from his wife Sara, given his post-race comments.
“That was the worst first half of a time trial I have ever done. I wanted to start fairly conservatively power wise but everyone is telling you to go easy on the corners, there’s three weeks and not to crash.
“The first few corners I cornered like my wife and she hasn’t ridden a bike for 12 years. It was unbelievable and then I realised I still had my gilet on.
“When I went through the first time check and I was 18 seconds down I just took the pin out. I know I could have done a better ride so it is annoying,” he added.
Tomorrow, the first road stage of this year's race takes the peloton across the Great Belt bridge within the closing 20 kilometres – and if it turns out to be windy, there is every chance the group could be blown to pieces with echelons forming, meaning there is likely to be a lot of fighting for position within the bunch to be near the front.
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Good article albeit bleak news. Especially for any optimists who might have thought we were nearing the "end of the beginning" and had reached the...
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