“It wasn’t clear yet whether I would join the break this morning because I thought it might be wiser to save some strength for the final week. But it was obvious from the beginning that a few strong riders were willing to be part of the break so I decided to join them. We got a lot of advantage from the peloton because no one was a threat to the GC riders. Van Avermaet was the best placed rider at twenty seconds but the GC riders don’t expect that he will play a role in the mountain stages.

“The cooperation in the front group was gone after a while so we decided to continue the break with three riders. We weren’t sure whether Grivko would be good or not. Greg and I decided that he mustn’t win today’s stage because he didn’t do his part of the job. Eventually he was dropped on the fourth climb of the day. Van Avermaet accelerated on the penultimate climb and it was clear that he was stronger than me. I’m a bit disappointed of course but I realise that Greg was simply the best today. He really deserved this victory.

“It was clear that the KOM sprints would be today's goal from the moment that I was part of the break. I was able to win three sprints and I will wear the polka dot jersey tomorrow. Wearing that jersey is a big dream. I was never able to wear a jersey in a Grand Tour so I’m really happy. Obtaining the prize of the most combative rider and the polka dot jersey is a nice consolation prize. I’ll try to defend that jersey for at least one day, after that it will depend on how the Tour will evolve.”