Grosu had demonstrated his speed and smartness, Lampaert in yellow

Grosu had demonstrated his speed and smartness, Lampaert in yellow

Thursday was the day of a queen stage dominated by the fast Romanian. Eduard Grosu survived every climb and seized the sprint in Ruzomberok. Yves Lampaert, a new leader of the race, was finishing right behind him.

 

After two days the peloton has left Bardejov. For the last time fans and spectators could see riders dive into the hardest and longest stage in this edition. This test ended in Ruzomberok, but before that cyclists had to battle five climbs. Two of them were first-category hills. The bunch had passed Strbske Pleso, which was the decisive place for Julian Alaphilippe´s victory last year.

 

Major part of Slovakia was going through freezing-cold and hostile weather and a very strong wind was making it hard for cyclists, causing numerous problems. They had to endure rain right from the start of stage, so opening kilometres were pretty wet. Despite that, many riders attempted to get into the breakaway, mostly continental teams such as Dukla BB and Elkov-Author. World Tour teams didn´t let them and when they finally did, they kept everything under control.

 

Bunch stayed together until the first categorized climb. Six points on Obrucne (2,8 km – 5,4 %) were taken by the leading man in KOM classification, Kenny Molly (Wallonie – Bruxelles). Cyclists targeting this competition had to be super-attentive, since a total of 38 points was waiting on the road today. Shortly after the descent a trio made up of Rémy Rochas (Delko - Marseille Provence), Martin Salmon (Development Team Sunweb) and Idar Andersen (Uno-X Norwegian Development) managed to retain a decent gap.

 

Deceuninck-Quick-Step began to work hard in the second half of the stage. After the last and final climb, they tried to look for better positions. In a descent from Strbske pleso the whole peloton was facing a really strong headwind, during which the Belgian team and Bora-hansgrohe caused some splits in the main field. They had got a 25 seconds gap, but collaboration stagnated. Rain contributed to the situation and also made the breakaway riders drop back into the bunch.

 

Everyone awaited the challenging finish. The road to Ruzomberok was relatively easy, again under supervison of World Tour teams. They had lead the bunch together into the final destination, where a technical finish with four sharp corners and an intense uphill cobbled passage was prepared. Eduard Grosu (Delko Marseille Provence) took advantage of that, earned himself a short lead and won!  Yves Lampaert  (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) finished second, Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) took third. Other elite sprinters, Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) didn´t sprint.

 

Thanks to the bonus seconds, Yves Lampaert will wear the yellow jersey tomorrow. After this tough stage, other jerseys are worn by Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) (points classification), Torjus Sleen (Uno-X Norwegian Development) (U23 classification) and above-mentioned Martin Salmon (Development Team Sunweb) (KOM classification). Idar Andersen of Uno-X Norwegian Development received the prize of the most aggressive rider. Erik Baška, who finished just under the podium today, remains the best Slovakian rider and keeps ninth position overall.