Dutchman Mike Teunissen clung on to the Tour de France yellow jersey for another day as his Jumbo-Visna team powered to victory in Sunday’s second-stage time trial.
But Australian race hopeful Richie Porte saw his hopes dented somewhat after his Trek-Segafredo team could only finish 18th over the 27.6-km course around the streets of Brussels.
It had looked as though Team Ineos, with British defending champion Geraint Thomas leading them home, had done enough but Jumbo-Visna, the last team to start, went quicker.
Porte was disappointed after his outfit finished well over a minute behind Jumbo-Visna but tried to remain upbeat.
“We’re there or thereabouts but the race is far from done,” Porte said in post-race interview on the Trek-Segafredo Twitter feed.
I’m not throwing the toys out of the cot just yet, there’s a long way to go with the climbing stages still to come.”
He later added on his own Twityter site: “A tough day out there @LeTour but we gave it everything we had. Plenty of racing yet to come.”
Australian team Mitchelton-Scott, were 21 seconds slower than Ineos at the Atomium finish.
With the extra motivation of keeping Teunissen – the first Dutchman to don the yellow jersey since 1989 – in the overall lead, the eight Jumbo-Visna riders hammered around the city streets to beat British outfit Ineos by 20 seconds.
Three of their riders were dropped but Teunissen and teammates Steven Kruijswijk, George Bennett, Wout van Aert and Tony Martin roared across the line in 28 minutes 58 seconds.
“Yesterday it was a dream come true, and it’s the case today again,” 26-year-old Teunissen, who surprisingly won Saturday’s bunch sprint, said. “We went hard from the start.”
While it was hard for the Ineos team to lose the time trial at the death, it was still a productive day for Thomas and co-leader Egan Bernal, who put chunks of time between themselves and some of their general classification rivals.
Frenchman Romain Bardet (AG2R-Mondiale) lost 59 seconds on the Ineos duo although he will still feel he can claw that damage back when the road goes up.
Jakob Fuglsang, who suffered a heavy crash on Saturday, lost only 21 seconds on Thomas and Bernal as his Astana team produced a solid time trial while former Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain) lost only 16 seconds.
French hope Thibaut Pinot might be best pleased though after his Groupama FDJ team lost only 12 seconds to Ineos.
After two days in Belgium the race moves into France on Monday with a 215-km trek from Binche to Epernay when Teunissen, 10 seconds ahead, will be confident of retaining the overall lead.
Jumbo-Visna riders occupy the top five places in the GC.