Soudal Quick-Step leaves Saudi Arabia with two stage wins and two jerseys.

William Junior Lecerf needed only one race and basically one ascent to show what he is capable of, in the process confirming he is one of the most exciting climbing talents to turn pro in recent years. Just 21 years of age, the diminutive Belgian showed endless guts, class and an incredible ease on what was arguably the hardest climb tackled by the peloton since the start of the season, a 2.9km “wall” averaging 12.3% but featuring some insane maximum gradients of 17%.

Everyone knew before the start of the fifth stage that the Harrat Uwayrid ascent would be decisive in the fight for the general classification, with the gaps between the contenders minimal, but nobody expected Lecerf to play such a prominent role in the finale. With the leading group whittled down to a handful of riders, William launched a dazzling attack that further decimated the field about 1500 meters from the top, plugging away on the slopes on the stinging slopes.

Three riders joined him on the plateau with eight kilometers to go, and the quartet decided to work together given that they had a consistent buffer over the chasers. The four lost some of that chunk going under the flamme rouge, but it was still enough to remain at the front and fight for the victory. The Belgian produced a great sprint from that group, to finish just a wheel’s length behind Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) and clinch a remarkable second place in the overall classification of this fourth edition.

“It’s an incredible day for me. The team did a fantastic job, putting me in an excellent position at the bottom of the climb, and I want to thank them for that. I felt very good so I attacked on one of the steepest sections. When the others came across I knew we had a good chance of going all the way. It’s a pity I was a bit boxed in in the sprint, where I had the legs, but still, to finish second in my first pro race is something amazing for me. I am happy to be on the GC podium here”, said William – the best young rider of the race – who was joined on the podium by Soudal Quick-Step teammate Tim Merlier, winner of the points jersey thanks to his pair of back-to-back stage victories.

 

Photo credit: ©Alex Broadway / Getty Images

Race details

1 Simon Yates
Team Jayco AlUla
3:24:37
2 William Junior Lecerf
Soudal - Quick Step
0:00
3 Finn Fisher-Black
UAE Team Emirates
0:00
4 Rafał Majka
UAE Team Emirates
0:02
5 Pierre Latour
TotalEnergies
0:05
6 Anders Halland Johannessen
Uno-X Mobility
0:05
7 Gianluca Brambilla
Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team
0:07
8 Matteo Sobrero
BORA - hansgrohe
0:07
9 Davide Formolo
Movistar Team
0:11
10 Iván Romeo Abad
Movistar Team
0:29
53 Martin Svrček
Soudal - Quick Step
2:01
76 Tim Merlier
Soudal - Quick Step
5:39
83 Bert Van Lerberghe
Soudal - Quick Step
5:39
85 Ayco Bastiaens
Soudal - Quick Step
5:39
89 Jordi Warlop
Soudal - Quick Step
5:39
DNS Warre Vangheluwe
Soudal - Quick Step
-03:24:37
1 Simon Yates
Team Jayco AlUla
18:37:05
2 William Junior Lecerf
Soudal - Quick Step
0:03
3 Finn Fisher-Black
UAE Team Emirates
0:03
4 Matteo Sobrero
BORA - hansgrohe
0:12
5 Gianluca Brambilla
Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team
0:18
6 Davide Formolo
Movistar Team
0:22
7 Bryan Coquard
Cofidis
0:32
8 Rick Pluimers
Tudor Pro Cycling Team
0:40
9 Iván Romeo Abad
Movistar Team
0:40
10 Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin
Terengganu Cycling Team
0:45
41 Tim Merlier
Soudal - Quick Step
5:23
48 Jordi Warlop
Soudal - Quick Step
7:36
66 Martin Svrček
Soudal - Quick Step
10:07
67 Bert Van Lerberghe
Soudal - Quick Step
10:20
77 Ayco Bastiaens
Soudal - Quick Step
12:05
1 Tim Merlier
Soudal - Quick Step
39 pt
2 Casper van Uden
Team dsm-firmenich PostNL
39 pt
3 Søren Wærenskjold
Uno-X Mobility
25 pt
4 Bryan Coquard
Cofidis
22 pt
5 Arvid de Kleijn
Tudor Pro Cycling Team
17 pt
6 Simon Yates
Team Jayco AlUla
15 pt
7 Luka Mezgec
Team Jayco AlUla
13 pt
8 William Junior Lecerf
Soudal - Quick Step
12 pt
9 Rick Pluimers
Tudor Pro Cycling Team
11 pt
10 Dušan Rajović
Bahrain - Victorious
11 pt
16 Jordi Warlop
Soudal - Quick Step
5 pt
1 William Junior Lecerf
Soudal - Quick Step
18:37:08
2 Finn Fisher-Black
UAE Team Emirates
0:00
3 Rick Pluimers
Tudor Pro Cycling Team
0:37
4 Iván Romeo Abad
Movistar Team
0:37
5 Fred Wright
Bahrain - Victorious
0:49
6 Casper van Uden
Team dsm-firmenich PostNL
1:11
7 Anders Halland Johannessen
Uno-X Mobility
1:18
8 Thomas Pesenti
JCL Team UKYO
1:49
9 Enekoitz Azparren Irurzun
Euskaltel - Euskadi
1:49
10 Edoardo Zambanini
Bahrain - Victorious
1:55
20 Martin Svrček
Soudal - Quick Step
10:04
1 BORA - hansgrohe 55:53:03
2 UAE Team Emirates 0:25
3 Team Jayco AlUla 0:46
4 Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team 0:52
5 Cofidis 1:38
6 Movistar Team 1:39
7 Euskaltel - Euskadi 1:53
8 TotalEnergies 3:04
9 Bahrain - Victorious 3:07
10 JCL Team UKYO 3:54

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