At the opening stage of the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, Bjorg Lambrecht (Lotto Soudal) attacked the main general classification group on the final ascent of Cote de Roquenatou, bridging across to the remaining duo of the day’s breakaway, Magnus Cort (Astana) and compatriot Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale).
The three riders worked well together on the descent and rolling run-in to Jussac, before being caught in the final kilometre, where Edvald Boasson Hagen took a fifth career stage win at the race.
Lotto Soudal announced on Thursday that the WorldTour team had extended the contract of 22-year-old Belgian for another two seasons and with top-ten finishes at Brabantse Pijl, Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne, Lambrecht continues to show his pedigree.
“In the beginning, I wasn’t feeling really good,” Lambrecht told Cyclingnews as he warmed down on a turbo trainer outside his team bus. “In the final, it split at the beginning of the climb and I was in the second part. I just followed [Steven] Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) and then I saw they had stopped, the first group, so I came back and then I could recover a bit.
“Then I just said ‘I’m going to go’ and nobody followed me. My director said on the radio Oliver [Naesen] and Magnus Cort were not that far ahead from the first group and I was just going a bloc [full gas] until the finish with them but it was 500 metres too much.”
The Belgian climber finished second on GC during the 2017 Tour de l’Avenir, which was won by Team Ineos’ Egan Bernal and in 2018 by UAE Team Emirates’ Slovenian star Tadej Pogačar. The race is often a litmus test for future stage racing stars, with the likes of Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves, Warren Barguil, Miguel Angel Lopez and Marc Soler winning in the last decade alone.
While Lambrecht’s true GC potential is yet to be seen, the Belgian is managing his development carefully, opting for stages at this year’s Dauphiné as opposed to mounting a full GC challenge.
“The Dauphiné for me, every stage I’m just going to see how the feelings are and if I feel good I will try something. I’m not really here for the GC, so I’m looking stage by stage.
“Today the legs felt really good in the final and I hope one of the next days I will try again and I hope I can hold this feeling. The condition is really good after [Tour of] Norway but we will see for the next stages, I’m really looking forward to it.”