Mauro Schmid finishes tenth overall, after being on the attack for 200 kilometers.
Andrea Bagioli became the 12th different Soudal Quick-Step rider to take a victory this season, after a great late attack in the closing kilometers of the fifth stage – the longest of this year’s Tour de Wallonie – signing off the team’s 34th win of the year.
Our squad rode the entire day with the objective of making the race as hard as possible, and to do that, Mauro Schmid and Mauri Vansevenant went in the breakaway, applying pressure on the peloton, who knew the former was a real threat for the general classification. The Swiss, victorious this season at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali, ended up being the last man standing of that six-man leading group, only the combined effort of several teams bringing him back before the third intermediate sprint.
Soudal Quick-Step remained prominent even after the peloton became as one again, storming to the front with five riders, including Mauro, who managed to hang on to the group. Jannik Steimle and Stan Van Tricht worked tirelessly, making sure the sprinters’ legs would be heavy by the time they hit the final climb, where Andrea took off with one of his trademark attacks.
The 24-year-old was joined before the top of the climb by Stephen Williams (Israel – PremierTech), opening a ten-second gap on a bunch that was slowly regrouping on the descent, and despite putting in some big turns, he still had enough left in the legs to open his sprint from distance and take a comfortable victory.
Coming home with the bunch just behind Andrea helped Mauro gain a place on the general classification to conclude the race in tenth overall, before taking to the podium to pick up the trophy for the most combative rider of the day.
“The whole team did a great race today. We knew the parcours wasn’t easy, with all those climbs and a bit of wind, so at the morning meeting we decided to make it really hard for the others, sending Mauro and Mauri in the break. They did a good job in the front, putting a lot of pressure on the bunch. The finale was a bit chaotic, but I felt good when we arrived at the start of the final climb, so I told the guys I would try something.”
“I attacked just like two days ago, but this time the climb came closer to the finish, which worked to my advantage. Going over the top, we had 10-12 seconds in hand, and that was the moment I started believing. In the last 300 meters, as the bunch was approaching, I opened my sprint, and even though it was a bit early, in the end it turned out to be the best decision. I am happy with this victory, it gives me a lot of confidence for this second part of the season”, Andrea said after his fifth win in the Soudal Quick-Step jersey.
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images