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Van Aert third in tough opening stage Tour de France

Van Aert third in tough opening stage Tour de France

Van Aert finished third in the opening stage of the Tour de France. After a gruelling race, the 29-year-old Belgian was the fastest of the reduced peloton, which miscalculated the gap to the two escapees Romain Bardet and Frank van den Broek. Jonas Vingegaard and Matteo Jorgenson also finished in the peloton.

The Grand Départ of the 111th Tour de France took place in Florence, Italy. A tough opening stage in hot conditions awaited the peloton. In the 206-kilometre stage between Florence and Rimini, the riders climbed seven categorised hills, totalling around 3,600 altimeters.

On the first climb, eight riders formed the breakaway of the day. In the peloton, the Team Visma | Lease a Bike riders were always at the front. Meanwhile, the leading group thinned out. In the end, the last remaining escapee Van den Broek was joined by his teammate Bardet. The two rode together towards the finish in Rimini. In the final kilometres, the peloton came very close, but the duo managed to stay out of their grip. The stage win was for Bardet. Van Aert sprinted to third place.

"I couldn't have predicted to be at this level"

Wout van Aert

"I didn't expect this”, responded an emotional Van Aert afterwards. "I am very happy with this result. I couldn't have predicted to be at this level. I felt good on the road. At the moments where many riders were struggling, I still felt fresh. After the last hill we decided to go full for the stage win. The collaboration with other teams came, but the two leaders stayed out of our grasp. Hats off for that."

"It does a lot of good that I can show this again”, Van Aert added. "After the crash in Dwars door Vlaanderen, it was a tough period for me. I came to this Tour with a lot of doubts, but as the stage progressed I found the confidence again. I started to believe in it and then the guys rode full for me. I'm proud of how we performed today."

Jonas Vingegaard also had a good day. "I'm satisfied with my feeling”, said the two-time Tour winner. "It's a pity we just failed to catch the leaders, because Wout had a great chance to win. But both Wout and I felt fine today. We have to be happy with that. I'm already looking positively at the next three weeks."

Sportive director Merijn Zeeman saw a fine performance from his riders. "Today's performance is a reward for all the hard work both riders and staff have put in over the past few months. The stage win would have been nice, but we are mainly looking at all the positives we saw. This Tour de France will be a great battle."

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