It's Van Avermaet's second time in the yellow jersey, after 2016. Van Avermaet had finetuned a clear plan: avoid losing precious seconds in the first two stages, and strike with his BMC team in the team time trial in Chôlet (western France) after the weekend. BMC are specialists in the team time trial, a very demanding discipline.
BMC saw off Chris Froome's Team Sky (4 seconds behind) and the Belgian Quick-Step Floors team (+7). It allowed Van Avermaet to snatch the jersey from Peter Sagan, who lost his Bora team mates underway.
Van Avermaet now leads the standings in the same time as his team mate Teejay Van Garderen. "I didn't lose a team time trial with BMC in the past two years. However, this time I had to wait a long time to know the final result (after BMC set an early best time, red.) Waiting in the hot seat was hell."
"But we made it. I am very happy, I will really enjoy the yellow. Last time, in 2016, was a super experience, so I want to soak up these moments. I want to thank my team mates, without them this wouldn't have been possible. We tried to keep our 8 riders together as long as possible. (...) I should be able to keep this jersey a couple of days if nothing goes wrong. It will be an honour for me to lead the world's biggest cycle race."
Waiting in the hot seat was hell