Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) couldn't help but share his disbelief to reporters while talking about Wout Van Aert's (Jumbo-Visma) performance on stage six of the Tour de France, stunned with the strength the Belgian displayed.
Van Aert, Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) and Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech) created the first breakaway of stage six that stuck, with the trio's lead growing to four minutes during the course of the day. However, Fuglsang dropped off the front midway through the race, with Simmons also unable to match the pace set by Van Aert.
Consequently, Van Aert had to complete a 30km solo attack if he wanted to win another stage of this year's Tour, as well as extend his lead on GC. He didn't quite have the legs to assert his dominance, though, with the peloton catching him in the remaining 11km of the race.
However, this didn't stop Pidcock from expressing how shocked he is with the Belgian's capabilities on the longest stage of this year's Tour, an undulating 220km in Belgium and northern France.
Speaking to reporters immediately after the race, Pidcock highlighted his - and other riders' - feelings on Van Aert.
"He's playing with our balls isn't he? I don't know what to say to be honest. He's taking the piss, isn't he," Pidcock said.
Ultimately, Van Aert relinquished control of the yellow jersey with his audacious attempt, paving the way for Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) to move into the overall lead. The Belgian's tactics shocked many, and it's certainly not a tactic utilised by many race leaders.
Pidcock, meanwhile, crossed the line in fourth, just missing out on his first-ever podium spot at the Tour de France. Regardless, the Ineos Greandiers rider seemed happy he managed to hold onto the pace at the front of the peloton, with his performance moving him up to fifth on GC.
“My legs came good in the last 3km but after that start and trying to get in the breakaway I was thinking that there’s no way I could contest this final," he explained.
"I was feeling good there and then Roglič went a bit early and then caught everyone by surprise, then I had to stall and that killed my momentum. In the end I think that I did a good sprint but I think that Pogačar was the strongest.”
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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