With a late burst of speed and a bike throw, Edward Theuns captured a fantastic second place in stage three of the Binckbank Tour Wednesday.
It was a full team effort behind Theuns' result; the entire Trek-Segafredo team had amassed at the front far from the finish with the wind and threat of rain keeping everyone on edge.
In the final 10 kilometers, the team was lined up on the left, in perfect position. It was too far to start the leadout, but it was important to have position early, and it made the difference in the end, explained Theuns.
"It's really nice when you feel that you have the whole team around you, everybody was there, and we were saying in the radio we have to come on the left side at that point – maybe it didn't work 100%, but we did a really good job, and we were there together. When you are together you are always stronger as a team; this was really important today on this kind of finish, and in the end, it worked out pretty good I think," he said.
"The last straight was 1km so pretty long, and it was a bit of headwind so I knew you couldn't start too early," continued Theuns. "I found a gap on the right side and Boy (van Poppel) let me through, but yeah, in the end, the road was done. Maybe if the finish was a little bit further, I could make it…"
In the last meters, Theuns was gaining fast but ran out of real estate ahead of the white line. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) edged closer to his 100th milestone victory, taking win number 99, while Theuns' well-timed bike throw earned him second place.
Most teams were interested in a bunched finish and the day's token breakaway had little hope in the flat 185-kilometer race, but it was far from a relaxed day on the bike for the peloton with the wind keeping everyone tense.
Trek-Segafredo didn’t take any chances and gathered at the front far from the finish, but the echelons never materialized. The rain, however, did.
"It was quite of a nervous day because there was some wind, so we tried to be [near the front] in the safety zone because you never know when it happens. But in the end also, there were some crucial points – a bridge with 4k to go – where you really had to be in the front," explained Theuns.
"And it started raining in the last 5k, which also made it more dangerous a little bit. So we knew the points where we really had to be at the front and in the end we were in position where we had to be in the last kilometers. I think we did really good teamwork – we were together with the whole team and came at the right moment to the front. In the end, it was Gregy, Boy, and Jasper doing a really good job."
For Trek-Segafredo, the win, once again, was close and the team settled for another second place amongst many, but in a star-studded field of sprinters, names that included Sagan, Greipel, and Kittel, Theuns was happy to be fighting for the victory.
"I know my form is good, I had a really good feeling in the TT yesterday also, but the sprint is always hectic and not so easy. The sprinter field is really strong here, and if you can place second in this kind of sprint, it means you're there, so it's good for my confidence. I am really happy to be there and try and sprint for the victory," he said.