Schmid leads the Belgium Tour
A great day of racing at the Belgium Tour concluded with Mauro Schmid making a visit to the podium to collect his second leader’s jersey of the season. Having topped the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali general classification in March, the Swiss has repeated that performance at the team’s home race, following the toughest stage of the entire week.
One of the ten different Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl riders to rack up a win in 2022, Mauro sat only 26 seconds off the overall lead, but thanks to a perfect move which saw him join a strong group with more than 70 kilometers to go, he turned the table in his favour and will now start the final stage with the blue jersey on his shoulders.
The numerous hills sprinkled over the 172.6km route around Durbuy made things impossible to control, and knowing this, the Wolfpack and Schmid made their move early. The small 10-second gap expanded to the point the peloton was taken out of contention more than 20 kilometers from the finish, when the attackers’ advantage showed two minutes.
After getting involved at the Golden Kilometer sprints and notching up three bonus seconds, Mauro still found the energy to fight for the victory, ending the stage just behind Quinten Hermans (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) – a result that combined with the bonifications scored on the line moved him at the top of the standings, the difference between him and the next rider on the GC being made by the hundreds of a second in the time trial.
“I knew it could be very close in the end and it would come down to the bonifications at the finish and in the Golden Kilometer if we stayed together. We did a good job as a team, with me in the break and the other guys controlling what was happening in the bunch behind on a hard and incredibly hot day. I tried to save the legs a bit for the finale, but I felt the effort on the last climb, where I knew Quinten would be strong. When I noticed Tim was dropped, I searched for the last ounce of energy to gain as much time as possible, and I’m happy I got rewarded with the leader’s jersey. We’ll see what we can do on the last stage, but the plan is to try to defend this jersey and help Fabio go for the win”, Mauro said after the podium ceremony.
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images