'I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium' — Yves Lampaert shocked at winning stage one of the Tour de France

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider says he was hoping for a top ten, but went five seconds faster than anyone else in the time trial

Yves Lampaert
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It appeared that Yves Lampaert was just as surprised as everyone else that he won the opening time trial of the Tour de France on Friday.

"I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium, eh," the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider told the television interviewers as soon as his win was confirmed, after he had spent almost an hour and a half in the hot seat. You know, just a farmer's son who has won 15 races over his career, and been a key part of an all-conquering Quick-Step team since 2015. Him being in the yellow jersey is not outrageous. Still, Friday's result was a surprise.

Not that he is a bad time triallist - he has twice won the Belgian national championships - but he certainly was not mentioned among the favourites ahead of the stage. The likes of world champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) were the ones on people's lips, along with two-time defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), obviously. Funnily enough, this starry quartet all finished in the top five.

Lampaert himself said it was "unbelievable" that he beat those bigger names, and one could certainly feel a shockwave of surprise drifting through those at the finish line that he took five seconds on Van Aert.

"My mind is exploding," he said. "I came with the expectation that a top 10 would be great. Now I've beaten all the best riders in the world - I'm just a farmer's son from Belgium, eh - to do this, I never expected it. I cannot believe it. I know I'm in good condition but, guys, to win a stage in the Tour de France, the first stage? This is something I never could dream of and I did it."

It was a sodden day in Copenhagen, which affected the speed of the time trial for certain. All the favourites were in the first half of riders out, which appeared to be a miscalculation, as the heaviest rain was saved for them, rather than those at the end.

This might have helped the Belgian post a quicker time, with the rain easing off for his section of riders. Not that the streets had much chance to dry off, however.

"The roads were still really wet when I went, so I think I had the same conditions as the main favourites," Lampaert argued, as he would.

There is no taking away from him though, that is just one of those things in cycling, it was the luck of the weather gods. No one had any sway over what the weather did.

It is a change in luck for the 31-year-old, who was forced to crash at Paris-Roubaix earlier this year after a spectator accidentally struck him. He was on his way to a podium then, but one imagines this more than makes up for it.

 "Everybody is free to pedal as hard as he can in a time trial, but to beat Van Aert, Van der Poel, Ganna, it's unbelievable for me," he said. "I always thought on the corners, 'Yves, go faster, trust in your tyres, or you'll lose seconds in the corners.' And in the end I came in 5 seconds up on Van Aert. I think I'll only realise what I've done when the Tour is over and I go back to my family. 

"Or maybe on Monday when I see my girlfriend and my son. I think I have to be proud of myself. I'll be thinking of the team on the podium and also my best friend Tim Declercq, who had to go home [due to Covid]. I really wanted to celebrate this moment with him, even if I didn't expect to have it. It's a pity he's not here."

With the yellow jersey as well as the stage win, Lampaert will be able to continue celebrating over the next few days, and might well reach his native Belgium on stage five still in the lead of the race. A magical start to the race for him.

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Adam Becket
Adam Becket

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.