For Belgian squad Landbouwkrediet the 45th Amstel Gold Race proved to be a happy hunting ground, with Bert De Waele's fourth place and Sebastien Delfosse's ride in the early breakaway the obvious highlights.
De Waele finishing ahead of the likes of Cunego and the Schleck brothers wasn't exactly what he expected, however. "Those guys are just a little bit... they are a lot better than me; one has to remain realistic," he said after the race.
"For our team this has been a great day. It's only Bert Scheirlinckx and me who can save something because we can ride the finale. The other guys in the team know they have to come up with something to gather publicity, that's why we had Delfosse in the breakaway," he explained.
De Waele laughed when asked if he had a super day. "If you can ride along between those great riders then you're certainly having a super day, especially for a rider of my level. Hopefully I can confirm this on Wednesday or next Sunday," he added.
The surprise attack from the Landbouwkrediet rider surprised many, not least of all himself. "It's true that I was still near the front after the Keutenberg [penultimate climb] whereas last year I got dropped on the top of that climb.
"On the descent I suffered from cramps because they were riding very fast to catch the leaders. I thought that I would be dropped at the foot of the Cauberg - further proof that I'm too modest.
"Suddenly I saw that there was a gap. I thought: why not give it a shot. If they wanted to win they had to pass me. The least I could do was try," De Waele said. His opportunistic effort delivered him the best result at the highest level in his career.
De Waele knows he's capable of a good performance in hillier one-day races and the Flemish rider said it's confirmation of what he's suspected for some time. "Last year I rode a magnificent world championships race, earning my selection in the team in a great way. It's not the first time I've shown that I'm a good rider. I've been proving that for many years now," he stated.
Being the protected rider De Waele was able to live up to the team's expectations and keep up with the main group on the decisive climbs. When the bunch of about 20 riders rode up the first metres of the Cauberg the veteran was still there, albeit at the back of the selection.
Somehow he managed to pass everybody during the first half of the climb and attack on the left hand side of the road. "I think it was a good effort from me; anticipating the big guns, going for the surprise attack at 350-400 metres from the end... but I saw that Gilbert was right on my wheel and passed me - he was very strong and I feel that the best rider has won the race," explained De Waele.
"I looked back and I was surprised to see that there was a gap. Too bad that two other guys passed me otherwise I would've been on the podium. I can't be disappointed though, because one has to start somewhere, no?" he added.
De Waele was forced to fight hard for his spot in the peloton although he doesn't expect the ride will change his outlook on racing, saying that deference and a sense of modesty can still get the better of him on occasions. "No, my confidence isn't high enough for that," he said.
"I'm always thinking that I should allow other riders to pass, I'm way too obedient in those things. These characteristics are in my genes. They will not change anymore - I'm 35 years old," he explained.
"Finally there's a great result [for the team] and I'll try to make the best of the upcoming race," continued De Waele. "I've been riding at a high level for most of the season but the Flemish races don't suit me that well and here I finally found a course that fits my capabilities, with this great result as the outcome; it doesn't get any better," he explained.