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The Baloise Belgium Tour ended with beef Sunday.
A blocking maneuver by Yves Lampaert and the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team in Sunday’s final stage robbed Lotto-Soudal leader Tim Wellens the chance of sprinting for the seconds he needed to seal the overall.
“The ‘fight’ with Lampaert costs me the overall victory,” Wellens asserted after the race.
Wellens started the decisive final stage level on time with Quick-Step rider Mauro Schmid.
With a bunch sprint final on the cards Sunday, the battle for GC centered around the bonus seconds available for a series of intermediate sprints in the so-called “Golden Kilometer.”
Quick-Step’s “Wolfpack” executed a move that blocked Wellens from sprinting for the seconds he needed. He later finished the race empty-handed with second as Schmid took home the first GC victory of his career.
Yves Lampaert and Tim Wellens had a bit of a disagreement today at the #BaloiseBelgiumTour
Who do you think was in the wrong here?? pic.twitter.com/AtlLEeE9Ah
— GCN Racing (@GcnRacing) June 19, 2022
“It was hectic. There was quite a bit of pushing and pulling on both sides,” Lampaert said soon after the stage. “I think everything was pretty fair.”
Race officials later booted Lampert from the race for “deviating from the line and hindering or endangering another rider.” However, the final result still stood.
“Angry has been said a lot, but of course I am not happy,” Wellens said.
“I am especially disappointed to come so close to the overall victory and then see it slip out of my hands. Lampaert’s disqualification doesn’t change anything. Mauro Schmid is the overall winner.”
The sprinter community condemned Quick-Step’s tactic. Retired sprinters Robbie McEwen and Andre Greipel both commented on social media, and a number of active pros also chimed in.
A clear example of unfair behavior…n my opinion there should be a rule not to have the last two sprints counting as it was a clear assault from Lampaert to take out Wellens for the sprints. https://t.co/qYZg7x3XmM
— Andre Greipel (@AndreGreipel) June 20, 2022
There is room in the UCI rulebook for Lampaert to be suspended from racing. The governing body has not yet taken action.