Davide Ballerini: “I won Omloop because the whole team believed in me”

Davide Ballerini: “I won Omloop because the whole team believed in me”

Friday 19 March 2021 - 13:01

The 26-year-old Italian looked back on his unforgettable Opening Weekend win and talked about how Deceuninck – Quick-Step has become his second family.

“For sure I didn’t expect to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. I’m really happy! It was unbelievable when I saw Julian pulling for me. To have the World Champion do that gave me a lot of power and motivation. The day before Omloop when I saw Julian in the hotel he said: ‘Tomorrow is going to be your day, Ballero!’ I was laughing at him, and truth being told, the day before I don’t think too much about the race. But he and the whole team believed in me.”

Looking back, Davide believes he made a chance only in the final. “The whole team worked for me in the sprint. There I began believing it, I felt the legs, I felt the power and we did it. We were the best team in the front, as we were with 5-6 riders up there. They all worked for me, Kasper, Yves and also Florian did a really tremendous job. As we got closer to the line, I was thinking that maybe Florian was pulling too long, but he really had super legs and he knew exactly how long he could go.”

An incredible start to the season

“At home my father was super excited! Originally, he wanted to come and see the race, but it wasn’t easy with the whole situation so he decided to watch it on TV. He was so proud and didn’t expect it. I hope that once things get better around the world, he will be able to come and watch me at a race this season.” For Davide the season started in emphatic fashion, with him taking two wins at Tour de la Provence before the Opening Weekend.

“The first race of the season isn’t easy, you train a lot in the winter, but you never know how things will pan out. Especially on my sprint I worked a lot with our trainer, Vasi. I really improved my sprint and during training I felt I had a lot of power, but then you never know how the legs of the other guys are. I just try to believe in myself and don’t stress too much. Getting those two victories, especially the one on the second stage, which had such a hard final, really buoyed my confidence.”

Now that the Classics are about to start, Davide can’t wait to be in action for the Wolfpack, after a solid outing at Tirreno-Adriatico. “I like racing in Italy, it’s my home country. This was a good training for Milano-Sanremo and the other classics. At times, the weather wasn’t optimal, but in general it was a good week. Of course, it’s not the same without the public, also in Omloop I think it’s really not the same feeling without the people along the finish line or on the climbs. The public gives me that extra bit of power. I can’t wait now for Milano-Sanremo, where I hope to help the team get a good result.”

Living with music

Not only the people along the road cheer Davide forward. “I live with music. I listen to it every hour, sometimes too much. But I really need it, also during the race sometimes I have a song in my head. And during training I always put on some music. I need it as companion, for my motivation”, Davide explains.

Davide is grateful for the chances he got within the squad. “My first season with the team was really good last year, but unfortunately it was altered by the pandemic. But this is really a big family, I already experienced this when I did my first training camp in December two years ago. It was my dream to race for the team, I’m incredibly happy and proud to be here.”

In his first year with the Wolfpack, Davide took one win at the Tour de Pologne, but that was a race of mixed feelings. “On the first stage, the crash of Fabio happened. I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights. The team found motivation when we saw his recovery and how strong Fabio is. I saw him again in the training camp, I’m so proud of him, he’s such a fighter!” Spending maybe 250 days a year abroad with the team, it gives a different feeling. “At home I have my family, but this is my second family. When you stay two weeks in a training camp in the same room with one of your teammates, it’s a different kind of bond you create. The staff here is also what makes the difference, they do everything for you, also the little things.”

The season started well, but Davide still has some dreams. “My big goal is Paris-Roubaix. But there are a lot of important races coming up now. I feel good, and I take it race by race, day by day. We keep going in this direction. And although I don’t think it’s possible, Lombardy is also on my dream list. I train on those roads and know every corner, but I know at this point it’s difficult or I would need to change my whole body. I hope maybe one day they’ll change the parcours, you never know.”

 

Photo credit: ©Wout Beel

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