In his best season to date, with a top Classic at Dwars Door Vlaanderen and his country's national Time Trial title already in his palmares, Belgium's Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) continued his spectacular run of success with both a stage win and the leader's jersey in the Vuelta a España on Sunday.
After one Classics specialist, Ian Stannard (Team Sky), had begun to line out the peloton with a vengeance in the closing kilometres of Sunday's flat run across southern France, it was another, Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) who pulled Lampaert, and teammates Julian Alaphilippe and Matteo Trentin clear with three kilometres to go.
In a finish with distinct initial echoes of the strategy they used in Giro's stage 3 into Cagliari, where Quick-Step also forged a winning break for Fernando Gaviria in the coastal crosswinds, rather than wait for a small group sprint, Lampaert shot away on the fast, windblasted run for a solo triumph, his second at WorldTour level this season.
Whilst Lampaert is now the first Belgian leader of the Vuelta, too, since teammate Philippe Gilbert back in 2010, the icing on the cake for Quick-Step Floors came when Trentin also claimed second, allowing him, thanks to two time bonuses, to move into second overall.
"Leading a Grand Tour is very special. I can't believe I'll be on the start of the stage with the leader's jersey. It's an amazing moment for me in my career," Lampaert, 26, said later.
"We planned to make a move with the team, if it was not possible at an earlier point in the race, then at least in the last 10 kilometres," Lampaert said. "So Niki went full on in the last three kilometres and then Julian Alaphilippe was there, too, with a few guys in the break. Then they shouted at me, 'Go, go, go.' I knew I could make it for one kilometre, and I'm quite happy I could finish it off and make it right the way through to the end."
Lampaert recognised that taking la Roja on the top spot of GC is one thing, but holding onto it could well be another.
"It will be very hard to defend this lead. I'm not really a climber, but maybe my teammates [Bob] Jungels or [David] De La Cruz can do something," he said.
Either way, just two days into the Vuelta, completing Quick-Step's run of stage wins across all three Grand Tours, already makes this race a success both for him and for his team.
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