The Volta ao Algarve KOM champion talked about his memorable day in the break, for which he was handsomely rewarded.
Stage 5 was full gas from the start and the team gave me carte blanche to jump in the break and do my own race. I did and remained in the front until with 15 kilometers to go, when Styby’s group passed us. Then, after the finish, I went to congratulate him on his victory, because it was such a deserved win and he was very strong. I was extremely happy for him, gave him a big hug and was preparing to go back down to the team bus.
All of the sudden, someone from the organisation came and told me that I have to go to the podium, as I had won the mountain classification jersey. During the stage, I knew there were points up for grabs on the climbs, so I picked some here and there, but it wasn’t the plan to take the garment and I had no clue it was mine.
If I look now over the standings, it’s amazing and something which gives me huge satisfaction; being at the top, ahead of guys like Poels or Pogacar, who have proved themselves on the climbs, it’s something I will never forget. My primary task is to help the team, pull behind the breakaway and make sure I keep them on a leash, so winning a jersey was never my ambition.
It was my first time on the podium, something I have never experienced before. Of course, you see it all the time on the TV, but for me it was something completely new and when they came to hand me the jersey, you could see I wanted to put it backwards, with the zip on the front. I’m sure you all enjoyed this moment as much as I did, it made rounds on social media.
Overall, I am content with how things went, both in Provence and Algarve. I felt really good, and having the team win with Philippe, Fabio and Zdenek shows just how strong we are and gives us quite a boost of morale ahead of the Classics. I can’t wait for these races! But first, I have to buy my training mates some cake and coffee now that I’m Volta ao Algarve, King of the Mountain, that’s the tradition of our group when someone wins.
I got asked what I will do with this jersey and I can tell you I’m already thinking about framing it. It will probably be the only jersey I get to frame, so I will make sure I find a nice place in the house for it and I promise to share it with you on social media once it’s done.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images