Edward Theuns surprised some with his fifth place on his first Tour de France stage in Utah Beach to claim the best young rider jersey as a result. The Trek-Segafredo rider didn't contest the stage 2 finish into Cherbourg where teammate Jasper Stuyven came within 500 metres of the win, but on his favoured finish with a bunch sprint matched his fifth place in a show of consistency and strength in Angers.
"I am happy; again I am in the same line as the big sprinters," said Theuns of the stage won by Mark Cavendish in a photo finish over André Greipel. "It shows that the first stage is not just a coincidence, of just one time that I happened to get there. The team did a great job for me again. In the last corner, I lost a bit of speed because they were coming from the outside and I had to brake a little. But 5th again is really good for me, I think."
The grand tour debutant, who joined Trek-Segafredo after two seasons with Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, explained teammate Fabian Cancellara placed him in prime position for the sprint.
"Fabian gave me a pinch in the butt with around 3kms to go to take his wheel," he said. "He brought me from like 60th position to the first of the bunch. It was a big effort from him, and then he kept going so I could stay out of the wind."
While Theuns was positioned closed to the front of the peloton, he founded himself boxed in with riders either side of him fighting for wheels which detracted from the sprint for the line.
"The last 1.5kms was not like I thought it would be, it was a little downhill, so riders were coming from different sides, which made it hard to get into good position for the last corner. When I had to brake there, and lost a little speed, in this kind of finish that little bit of speed is important because it's hard to get it back in the uphill. Then it's hard to compete with the best sprinters in the world," he said.
"But they are not really sprinting away from me. It's all in the details. If I can get a little bit closer to start the sprint, then… Small things can make a difference. The most important is that again I showed I am fast, that I can be there in the finale, and I think that for me and for the team this is something we can build on."
Theuns and Trek-Segafredo won't have to wait before contesting another sprint for another shot at victory with the longest stage in the race, 232km from Saumer to Limoges, expected to suit the sprinters.
"Tomorrow we will try again. I hope that we will be rewarded for the way we are racing: the spirit is good in the team, we stay together, and in the end, we try and come to the front as a team. It would be nice to show something for this," added the 25-year-old.
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