At the Giro della Toscana, the Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider showed his current form and condition by joining the high caliber break of Vincenzo Nibali, Steve Cummings and Egan Bernal with 30km to race on stage 1. Describing the genesis of the move, Backaert explained that once Cummings committed, he knew they would be contesting the victory.
"At the foot of the climb the breakaway was caught. Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the climb and I followed him," Backaert said. "At the summit, Bernal joined and in the descent Cummings also closed the gap. At first Cummings did not cooperate because they were playing the Cavendish card. But it did not take long until the Brit took over. We worked well together and rushed to the finish. I did not even consider an attack as they never would have let me go."
A stage winner at the Tour of Austria last year, the 27-year-old has several top-ten results to his name, including second at this year's Tro-Bro Léon, and explained he tried to stay calm in the sprint for the win. While he beat Nibali in the sprint, he explained that the British champion was simply too good and deserving of the win.
"In the last two kilometers I did not overtake anymore, but Cummings was way too fast in the sprint," he said. "For the second place it was quite close between Bernal and me. Andrea Pasqualon finished 2nd in the bunch sprint behind Colbrelli after very smooth preparatory work of the team, so it was an excellent team performance today."
As a two stage race, the Giro della Toscana will be decided in tomorrow's hilly stage into Volterra. While Backaert and the leading quarter from stage one will hold a 12-second advantage of the majority of the peloton, he said the Wanty will be backing in Frenchman Guillaume Martin after he showed his current form with victory in the 2.2 Tour du Gévaudan last week.
"Tomorrow it is Guillaume Martin's turn to shine on a summit finish and also for the following Italian days we have some cards to play," he said. "I'm back in a good shape. I want to ride as many races as possible. In the ProCyclingStats classification of racedays I was in the lead, but the riders in the Vuelta have been able to catch up and gain an advantage. Unfortunately, they do not count kermesses, if so I am sure I would be in the lead!"