One year after he sustained a fractured vertebra in a crash at the 2016 Tour de France, Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) won his first race since making his comeback, when he sprinted to victory on stage four at the Binckbank Tour. It also marked the first WorldTour victory of his career.

Although Theuns returned to racing this season, he was still not completely pain-free and underwent surgery after the spring classics in late April to remove the hardware still in his spine. It was another few weeks to recover, and once again, more hard work to return to his top race form.

Today Theuns put closure on his near-career ending injury for good, and victory was very sweet.

“It’s a big relief, I am really happy,” said an elated Theuns. “I had a real rough time since I crashed in the Tour last year and I worked really hard to come back. After the spring classics, I again had surgery to take out the pins in my back, and since that surgery, I feel that I am getting stronger every week. I had a great training camp at altitude during the Tour, and now it pays off.”

Theuns sprinted to second place in Wednesday’s stage three, giving him and the team confidence and high morale to play for the win again.

A late attack by Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) almost spoiled the impeccable team work, but Boy van Poppel and Jasper Stuyven timed the catch at 200 metres to go, and Theuns finished off the perfect lead out.

“Dirk told us in the radio that Lampaert had a pretty good gap, but in the last kilometres to just focus on good positioning and sprinting so I wasn’t really looking at the situation. In the end, the gap opened on the right moment and Boy could go to the front with me and Jasper,” explained Theuns.

“When I started the sprint, I was able to go a little bit to his wheel, and it gave me a better slipstream, which was perfect for me. The lead out was really good, and I am super happy to give a reward to the whole team, for the hard work they do.”

“After yesterday, I really believed in it, and the team believed in it. Already yesterday we were really riding together as a group, and it was close, and today we tried again. Yesterday after the stage Dirk said tomorrow we go again for it, and in the end, it all turned out perfect.”

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