We talked with several former and current riders of the team about their moment of glory at the Corsa Rosa.
Normally, we should have been midway through the 103rd Giro d’Italia, getting ready for the demanding Valdobbiadene individual time trial. In the absence of the race – which we all hope to see take place in October – we became a bit nostalgic, so we talked with four former and current Deceuninck – Quick-Step riders about their moment of glory at the Corsa Rosa.
Juan Manuel Garate – 2006 Giro d’Italia, stage 20: Pordenone – Passo San Pellegrino (224km)
At the start of the race, I knew that a podium finish would not be reachable, but a top 10 finish and a stage win were within my grasp. I also wanted to deliver my first victory for the team, after being so close on several occasions. That morning, in Pordenone, I had a nice feeling about the stage and at the end of the team meeting, I told our sports director – who wanted a more conservative approach – that I was keen on trying something. Paolo Bettini then said he would join me in the break and support me. Serge Parsani told us “Ok, let’s do it”, so we had a plan. A proper breakaway formed more than 100 kilometers into the stage, but afterwards we began to gain time rapidly and that was a boost of confidence. On Passo Pordoi, I had to stop for a toilet break, but I returned with ease at the front and that served as confirmation of the strong legs I had. On the final climb, the very steep Passo di San Pellegrino, Tadej Valjavec and Patxi Vila attacked, Jens Voigt joined them, but I countered that move and went solo just before the most vicious part of the ascent. Seeing that Voigt was pushing hard to come back, I slowed down a bit and allowed him to rejoin, only to put in a huge acceleration and show him that I was super fresh, although that wasn’t quite true. Probably this also played a role in the outcome, and as I continued to pedal to the line, I felt more and more that I was in absolute control. It was my first victory for the team and to this day it remains one of my best memories.
Jérôme Pineau – 2010 Giro d’Italia, stage 5: Novara – Novi Ligure (168km)
After stage 4 – a team time trial – concluded, I told Brama that I was going to win the next stage and he just started laughing and told me to cut the joking. But, of course, he said that if I wanted to give it a try from the break, I should do it, although he warned me it would be very difficult. Also Matteo Tosatto said to me that I was crazy, but sometimes you just have a feeling that everything will fall into the right place and you decide to follow your gut. In the morning, the team decided to give me a carte blanche, so I jumped in a break of four and we worked really well together, helped also by the fact the first 70 kilometers of the day were a gentle downhill. We rode full gas and as we passed the finish line for the first time, and with some 30 kilometers to go, we still had a hefty gap. I also noticed that the final kilometer included several corners which could later play into our favour. The sprinters’ teams chased really hard, but we were still at the front going under the flamme rouge, and used those corners to remain hidden. I started my sprint at 300 meters to go and I couldn’t believe it when I crossed the line first, it was magical, the whole team was so happy and celebrated that win. Many people said after the Classics that we weren’t that strong anymore, but we proved them wrong, with two stages at the Giro, then an amazing Tour de France – with Sylvain’s brace of victories and spell in the yellow jersey and my time in the polka dot one – and the Carlos’ win at the Vuelta. I find myself now behind the wheel, guiding the riders as team manager, and I’m telling you, I’d sign immediately for a year like that.
Iljo Keisse – 2015 Giro d’Italia, stage 21: Turin – Milan (185km)
It was the last stage, but a pretty long one, almost 200 kilometers in length. That year, we began the race with multiple ambitions – Rigoberto Uran for the GC and sprint wins with Tom Boonen – but things didn’t work out, we lost some guys due to crashes, so at the start in Turin there were only five of us. Davide Bramati told us that we shouldn’t be sure of a mass sprint, as the final circuit – which we had to cover six or seven times – was very technical, with some tight corners and narrow roads, making it difficult for the sprinters’ teams to organise themselves. We were talking about this stage three or four days before that Sunday and the only question was when to attack, not too soon, but also not too late. So, I made my move with 30 kilometers to go and was joined by another rider who didn’t have anything to lose, Luke Durbridge. We worked well together and extended our advantage by 5-10 seconds each lap. With one lap to go, we were just 30 seconds clear, but we got some help from Fabio Sabatini, who disrupted the chase several times. I began believing in the victory with just a few kilometers left and that was when I began playing some poker, so that my companion would work a bit more while I kept my energy for the final. I must say I was a bit nervous, but I could finish it off, and it was emotional, truly unbelievable. The moment I crossed the line – you couldn’t hear it on the TV – they were playing a song of Kings of Leon, which played also at the funeral of my best friend Wouter Weylandt, in 2011. His sister was there, also my father, so it was a very special moment for all of us. For me, it was the biggest win of my career, because it looked impossible to pull off, but in the end I somehow managed to do that. It’s been five years now, but it still feels like yesterday, maybe also because I don’t win that often, so every time it happens, it’s really special.
Bob Jungels, 2017 Giro d’Italia, stage 15: Valdengo – Bergamo (199km)
I began the day in the white jersey, which I had on my shoulders for a couple of days, after a nice stint in the maglia rosa. It was a 200km-long stage, with many sections borrowed from Il Lombardia and at the start I didn’t know what to expect, because in the previous two days I struggled a bit and lost time on the general classification. On the other hand, this motivated me and I really wanted to do something nice. The race was full gas from the start, there wasn’t a proper breakaway, as the bunch covered all the moves. Going into Bergamo, I gave it a shot on that small, cobbled hill, and this attack resulted in a small group going clear over the top. In the sprint, I was a bit lucky that a gap opened immediately, but I also had the fastest legs, I felt so good that day, despite the stage being a relentless one. To score my first Grand Tour stage victory against all those GC guys was definitely special, a win from which I took a lot of confidence, not just for the remaining Giro d’Italia stages, but also for the future. A win of a Luxembourg rider is a rare thing in a Grand Tour and delivering one, just days before wrapping up the best young rider classification for the second time in my career, felt great.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images