The first GC shakeout of the race sees pre-race contenders Steven Kruijswijk, Egan Bernal, Geraint Thomas, and Vincenzo Nibali profit from their team's performances.
Jumbo-Visma delivered a phenomenal team time trial to win Stage 2, Sunday. The Dutch team set off last with yellow jersey Mike Teunissen in their midst, and denied Team Ineos the victory by 20 seconds after the British team had led the race all day.
Home team Deceuninck-Quick-Step came third in the 27.6-kilometer race through Brussels, one second back on Ineos.
Mike Teunissen retains the yellow jersey he took on stage 1, and commented: “Yesterday it was mainly me who took credit for the win. Today it’s eight strong riders, the staff and everyone who contributed to the team’s success. It was a very big goal for us to win this.”
Team Ineos were the first team down the ramp, and sat in the hot seat all day, surviving strong challenges by Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Sunweb, and Katusha-Alpecin.
However, Jumbo-Visma, under the power of strongmen such as Wout van Aert and German TT champ Tony Martin, set off at a blistering pace, and despite losing form and finishing with five out of their eight riders, smashed the Ineos’ time. With only eight seconds separating second-place Ineos and sixth-place EF-Education First, the winning margin of 20 seconds was significant.
The win places Jumbo-Visma rider Steven Kruijswijk in the lead of the pre-race GC favorites, with Ineos pair Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal next of the ‘virtual’ yellow jersey fight.
“I felt really good in the stage – the feeling was better than last year in the TTT,” said Colombian climber Bernal. “I can be happy with that because I’m not a specialist and I was doing the TT with some strong guys. It was difficult but I felt good.”
Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Bahrain-Merida pair Rohan Dennis and Vincenzo Nibali will also be pleased with their start to the GC campaign, with their teams placing 28, 32 and 36 seconds back on Jumbo-Visma respectively.
Frenchman Pinot said after the race that they went into the TTT with confidence: “We’re all in good form with a group of riders who are all good team time trialists. Stefan Küng [who won last year in Cholet with BMC] gave us a lot of advice. With this nice result, I’m looking forward to Thursday’s stage [the first summit finish of the race] on my home soil.”
Contrastingly, Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale),Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) and Movistar trio Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana, and Alejandro Valverde will be chewing over some disappointment over dinner, all finishing over one minute down on the time set by Kruijswijk and Jumbo-Visma.
Team Ineos were the first team to take the start ramp, and were led out by defending champ Geraint Thomas. The Welshman showed no signs of damage from the tumble he suffered on Saturday’s opening stage. The British team were one of the pre-stage favorites and set the first time of the day, and the benchmark to beat of 29:28; a blistering 56.5kph.
Astana were third to set off, protecting their leader Jakob Fuglsang, who crashed hard on stage 1, hitting his head and knee. They finished 21 seconds back on Ineos and finished the day in 10th, 41 seconds down, doing well to limit any potential losses the Dane could have suffered as he nursed his injuries.
Katusha-Alpecin started off as dark horses for the stage, however, with two national TT champions in their midst – Jose Gonçalves and Alex Dowsett – were up on Ineos by four seconds after 20km. As they entered the final kilometers they looked like they could take the top slot, but faded at the last, placing second, six seconds down on Ineos and finishing with the fourth fastest time.
Mitchelton-Scott started the stage as one of the hot favorites, however they lost Simon Yates off the back early in the race, and finished with the minimum four riders, including their leader Adam Yates. They finished in 29:38 – the same time as Astana – in a result that perhaps didn’t meet their usual standards.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step showed their traditional TTT strength, with the splits against Team Ineos hovering one second up or down through the race. The Belgian team were as close as they could be to Ineos at the finish line, but lost out by 0.8 seconds to go into second place.
Yellow jersey team Jumbo-Visma were last to start, at which point Team Ineos had sat in the hot seat all day. Sprinter Dylan Groenewegen dropped off the back early on, perhaps feeling the effects the crash he was involved with in yesterday’s stage.
Despite the loss of Groenewegen, the Dutch squad went through the first time check a collosal 10 seconds up on Ineos. They continued to grow their split on Ineos through the race, and with 3km to go were 15 seconds up. Even with only five riders still in touch and form deteriorating in the final kilometers, the team finished in 28:57 to take the top step of the podium.
“We went hard from the start,” said Teunissen. “Dylan [Groenewegen] did good work at the beginning but because of the crash yesterday, he couldn’t stay for long and we had to work out our tactic without George [Bennett] because he’s too small although he felt good. The other guys were very strong. Everybody kept their pace.”
With stage 3 and 4 looking likely to finish in sprints, Teunissen has a good chance of keeping the GC lead for a few days. “Yesterday it was a dream come true, and it’s the case today again,” said the young Dutchman of his spell in the top slot.