The Belgian sealed the GC for one second, as European Champion Elia Viviani took the victory on the final stage.
Elia Viviani notched up another win, his 11th of a strong and impressive season, after capitalising on his teammates’ flawless piloting. Once he was slotted into position inside the last meters of stage 4, the 30-year-old Italian put in an incredible rush towards the line in Senica, where the 63rd edition of the race came to a conclusion, and eased home ahead of Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) and Alexander Kristoff (Team UAE Emirates), claiming his 28th victory for the Wolfpack, who continue to lead the 2019 win ranking.
“I am very happy that I have won again. I knew I had to beat Demare so we could take home also the general classification and I’m happy that I helped my team this way. The guys delivered yet another perfect lead-out in what was again a fast finale, where I had Michael and Yves for company, and all I had to do was kick out with around 180 meters remaining and put the finishing touch to their impeccable work. After so many podiums here, it was the time to take a victory and I’m happy I could bring it in this beautiful European Champion jersey. We felt great in Slovakia, the home of our sponsor janom, and it feels nice to end the week on a high note”, said Elia, who raced Okolo Slovenska for the first time in his career.
Despite the relatively easy finish, the peloton once again fragmented inside the last kilometer, only 19 riders finding themselves at the right end of the split. Among them was also overall leader Yves Lampaert, who started the day with a seven-second buffer in the standings, knowing that in order to secure the win, Demare had to miss out on the stage success. With Elia basking in the victory, Yves sewed up the general classification by one second – the smallest gap in the history of the race – and became the first ever Belgian rider to triumph at Okolo Slovenska.
“This is the second GC victory of my career, after the 2015 Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen, and it came following a beautiful but demanding week of racing, and that gives me even more pleasure. Today was a bit stressful, as my buffer wasn’t a big one, but thanks to the team’s excellent work, who protected me from start to finish and chased down the break, and Elia’s fine sprint, I can now savour this nice win. It’s a result which boosts my confidence ahead of next week’s World Championships in Yorkshire”, a happy Yves said after bringing UCI World Team Classification leader Deceuninck – Quick-Step its 65th victory of the year.