Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates and their Ineos Grenadiers teammates were all smiles as they warmed down on the rollers and prepared to ride back to their nearby hotel after being in the thick of the Tour de France action when Jumbo-Visma attacked on the late Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez climb near Calais.
Nobody was able to go with Wout van Aert when he dropped his teammates Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič but Yates was with the young Dane and Thomas was with the Slovenian, who lost contact with his teammates when another Jumbo-Visma rider eased up and opened a gap.
Everyone else was further back, with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) momentarily caught dangerously out of position with riders scrambling to close the gap.
Thomas and Yates saw Jumbo-Visma's attack and the sudden Tour de France GC battle explode in front and behind them, and were happy to be well placed.
"We thought it could be Paris-Nice 2.0 but didn't think it would be," Thomas said to ITV television and Cyclingnews referring to how Jumbo-Visma blew the March race apart with a combined attack on a climb.
"The guy in front of Roglič lost the wheel and Roglič didn't look like he could close it. I stuck with him and looked back but it was just Roglič, me and Dani Martinez, we decided to keep going over the top. I could see that Vingegaard was sitting on Yates, who was chasing Van Aert. It was all guys from the same teams racing against each other."
"We tried to get up to them so that we could all ride together but then other guys came across like Vlasov and Pogačar, so that's when we eased up. When the sprinters came back to us, we left the work to them and rode into the finish."
Thomas was clearly happy with his ability to respond to the Jumbo-Visma attack but warned that early Tour attacks are like early summer swifts; one attack does not make a Tour winner.
"I think a lot of today was about positioning, you had to have decent legs to go but it was just a two-minute blast, so you can't read too much into it," he suggested.
"That kind of effort doesn't really win you the Tour. But at least it shows we're going alright."
Yates was equally upbeat about his form and the racing.
"Jumbo-Visma did the same thing at Paris-Nice, and we had a suspicion they might do it again, and they did, sprinting full gas from the bottom to the top," the Briton explained.
"I just about ran out of legs just over the top but there was only one other guy there that was better than me, so there was not much more I could do. I got maybe 100m from the top and I blew, they were going pretty fast.
"Then I looked at the top and it was just Jonas Vingegaard behind me. I asked him if he wanted to come through, but he said no. He wasn't going to do a turn with his teammate up the road and that was it. They won the stage so congrats to them. Now we look forward to tomorrow."
Yates openly admitted that racing on the Paris-Roubaix cobbles is not his thing.
"No, I'm not looking forward to it," bluntly when asked, explaining his and Ineos Grenadier's strategy to keep him safe throughout this Tour.
"If they go into a ditch, I go into a ditch with them, so I just hope they know where they're going, and I do my best to follow."
Thomas is a former Classics rider and appears tempted to race hard on the cobbles.
"It'd be nice if it was an attacking race but the main thing is being out of trouble and in the race. It's like a crosswind day, they're always good if you're in front, down the back, no," he explained.
"It's different to Paris-Roubaix because there are guys riding for GC who aren't used to the cobbles. There's a lot of stress and fighting for positioning going into the cobbles.
"It could be a decisive stage. We've got a great team with guys like Luke Rowe and Dylan van Baarle, and I've done my fair share of cobbles. We're ready."
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.