Quick-Step Floors continued their successful Tour de France streak on Tuesday with a second stage victory for Fernando Gaviria and could be on track to match the team's five stage victories from last year's Tour.
Another late crash during the closing kilometres of stage 4 saw Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) lose nearly a minute on his rivals in the final 10 kilometres, while some quick thinking and strong teamwork from EF Education First-Drapac saved Rigoberto Uran's general classification hopes as he was caught in the same crash.
Quick-Step Floors' aggressive racing has not only produced two stage victories so far, but Bob Jungels, the team's GC contender, has stayed at the head of the racing away from crashes and currently sits seventh on GC.
Nobody is expecting Jungels to finish the Tour in Paris with the yellow jersey on his back, but two top-10 finishes at the Giro d'Italia, as well as two best young rider jerseys during the same races, suggests with some luck and consistency, a respectable GC finish could be in the cards for the Luxembourg national road race and time trial champion.
Quick-Step director Brian Holm spoke with Cyclingnews after Gaviria's stage win about the GC advantages of being able to ride on the front on the flat, fast days.
"It's always a bit easier on the front, isn't it? You know, staying out of trouble, we're pulling but everyone is staying up there, maybe a 50-50 split," Holm said. "We've said from the start, for Bob Jungels we're not the best climbing team here, but you can win some time actually by having a good team on the flat.
"Maybe you can make more time on the flat than you do in the mountains sometimes, it's a little bit of an advantage staying advanced on the front, and when we're riding nobody is going to push us and we can stay out of trouble. I saw Rigoberto [go down] and I saw him come back but he was sweating and swearing."
Holm believes the team's success so far takes some of the pressure off in terms of further stage victories, though nobody would be surprised if the Belgian team continue their success through to the first rest day in Lake Annecy.
"We have come pretty close every day, haven't we?" Holm said. "So things are going sort of as we expected. You know we could also be here with a big fat zero, you know how it goes in cycling sometimes with bad luck.
"We still have some shots in the six-shooter with [Julian] Alaphilippe, Bob [Jungels] of course and [Philippe] Gilbert, but it's easier when we've built it up like we have with Fernando. He's already won a few stages, so now we can relax a little bit and then the Mickey Mouse teams are going to have to ride a little bit."
Speaking with another reporter about the day's stage, Holm admitted the escapees came close to taking victory from the breakaway, and while Quick-Step Floors did their fair share of chasing in the closing kilometres, it would seem the team were also happy to let others commit to the chase.
"It was close but we knew a team would come good to catch the breakaway," he said. "We saw a good job from Dimension Data. Lotto Soudal did a great job, but of course it was difficult with the strong headwind from the left, but then the teams could smell the finish line and they knew it was time.
"[The breakaway] did a good ride. If they made it we would say congratulations also. Sometimes the breakaway can just make it and we didn't want to miscalculate it. It's not a bad thing for cycling if they make it but to say it was controlled is too easy to say, for a moment we weren't too sure."