Yves Lampaert wins Tour de France opening time trial

Belgian Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) won the opening time trial of the Tour de France in the Danish capital Copenhagen on Friday. The cyclist from West-Flanders was five seconds faster than runner-up Wout van Aert over the 13.2 km course. Lampaert is also the first to claim the yellow jersey.

Copenhagen was the setting for the most northerly Grand Départ ever. The rain was not a spoilsport for the spectators, who lined the course in great numbers, but the wetness did play a crucial role in the race. A double fall by the very early shadow favourite Stefan Bissegger was an immediate warning to the rest of the competitors, but just a few minutes later Mathieu van der Poel set the target time: 15:30. 

The biggest threat to Van der Poel seemed to come from the middle part, where top favourites Filippo Ganna and Wout van Aert started with a minute gap, followed by defending champion Tadej Pogacar. Despite a few slips along the way, Ganna took three seconds off the top time of 'MVDP', but immediately after that Van Aert took another five seconds off. Pogacar nestled neatly between Van Aert and Ganna, immediately putting all the other classification riders behind.

It turned out to be Yves Lampaert who pushed Van Aert out of the hot seat: at the intermediate point the Belgian cyclist was not among the five fastest riders, but on the finish line he was five seconds faster than Van Aert's top time. 

After Belgian titles in the road race and the time trial, a stage in the Tour of Spain and twice in Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Belgian booked his biggest victory ever, with 0:05 ahead of Van Aert and 0:07 ahead of Pogacar. Ganna finished fourth, Van der Poel fifth. On Saturday Lampaert can wear the Tour's yellow jersey for the first time in his career. 

In his first reaction, Lampaert fought back his emotions. "My mind is exploding. I came with the expectation that top ten would be great, now I beat all the best riders in the world. I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium. To do this, I never expected it," he said in a flash interview as he fought back his tears.



Belgian Yves Lampaert celebrates after winning the first stage of the Tour de France cycling race © BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS

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