"This yellow fits me, right?" Greg Van Avermaet was in the best of spirits after what he called the most beautiful day of his career.
When journalists asked him whether he felt he made the Belgian sports fans happy (after the Belgian shock exit at Euro 2016 by Wales), he was in for a joke: "I think it's time to stop Panenka! (the VRT's evening television show dedicated to Euro 2016) and replace it by Vive le Vélo (this late evening Tour de France show was postponed because of Panenka!, red.)."
"The whole world is watching"
Cycling pundit Eddy Planckaert, a former Belgian sprinter who won both the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and two Tour stages, thinks this kind of win is more beautiful than winning the Tour of Flanders: "The whole world is watching. Greg wins a mountain stage with a bonus of more than 5 minutes. This is exceptional."
It is hoped that Van Avermaet can keep the Yellow until Saturday, when the first high mountains appear in Pyrenees. He should be able to survive today's stage and also tomorrow's stage, despite the Col d'Aspin featuring in the 7th stage. Van Avermaet is not a specialist climber, but a strong classic rider who can survive the "smaller" mountains.
Nightmare in April
East-Fleming Van Avermaet beat World Champion Peter Sagan in the Omloop in Ghent this season, won Tirreno-Adriatico but crashed out of the Tour of Flanders, breaking his collar bone, in April, the biggest disappointment of his career as he was the top favourite then. "This makes up for this a bit, but it doesn't wipe it out." To do that, he will have to win the Tour of Flanders one day.