"I am happy with the form, but this performance is nothing special" - Jasper Philipsen plays down his impressive ride atop Mur de Durbuy

Jasper Philipsen seems ready to play an important role at the Tour de France again this year. The Belgian sprinter will be defending the Maillot Verde as a winner of four stages and the points classification last year. But before he can look towards the Tour, there's still one more stage to conquer at Baloise Belgium Tour. Yesterday on a tough circuit in Durbuy, the Belgian surprised many by hanging on to the front group and even sprinting to third on the final ascent of Mur de Durbuy (1.2 km at 6.2%).

Philipsen was not considered a candidate for stage victory in Durbuy in advance, but was still able to sprint for victory after more than four hours of racing. To his own surprise? "Yes and no. I no longer thought that I would finish third, but I did think that I would get dropped with the wind being at my disadvantage," the 26-year-old rider said afterwards in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad.

The fast man previously won the third stage with finish in Zichem after losing to Tim Merlier the day before. "I know that I am quite explosive and it is a relatively short climb," Philipsen refers to the Mur de Durbuy. "I still felt okay because we didn't really have to carry the race."

"The race has been in a fixed position for a long time, which allows me to keep myself somewhat aloof. And of course we don't have a Tour peloton here, although there are some very good riders here. This is a good indication of the form and I am happy with the shape, but this performance is nothing special," Philipsen believes.

The final stage on a local circuit in Brussel promises to be quite a spectacle with three riders in the contention for overall victory. Søren Wærenskjold still sits in the overall lead after the opening time trial, but Czech champion Mathias Vacek has once again closed the gap down to just two seconds. And the game will be for three as winner of yesterday's stage Alex Aranburu is now only six seconds behind the Norwegian. The Golden kilometer where riders can grab up to 9 seconds could thus turn out to be the highlight of the stage.

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