Unforgettable Giro d’Italia for Etixx – Quick-Step
Our team concluded the season's first Grand Tour with four stage wins, the white jersey and six days in the maglia rosa.
Three magical weeks for Etixx – Quick-Step came to an end on Sunday, in Torino, where Matteo Trentin capped off the team's hugely impressive Giro d'Italia by taking second from a reduced sprint. Shortly after the 99th edition of the race was completed, our riders made several visits to the podium, where they were celebrated and rewarded for their fantastic achievements during the past three weeks: winner of the U25 standings, Bob Jungels received the white jersey, Matteo Trentin was awarded the prize for the most aggressive rider, while the entire squad climbed on the top spot for taking the victory in the Super Team classification.
The season's curtain-raiser Grand Tour began in Netherlands, where Marcel Kittel stomped his sprinting authority by bursting out from his rivals and racking up two stage wins, which brought him the coveted maglia rosa for the first time in his career. After the opening week-end, in which the German emerged as the fastest sprinter of the race, Gianluca Brambilla stole the show a few days later, on the roads to Arezzo, where he made the best of Matteo Trentin's work – who pulled hard for his fellow countryman on the tough slopes of Alpe di Poti – and scored a memorable win on his way to the first place of the general classification.
After keeping the lead for two days, Gianluca showed that he's not just a strong rider, capable of fighting until the end for success, but also that he can revert roles and help back his teammates. On the complicated finish to Sestola, the 28-year-old sacrificed himself for Jungels and dug deep, so that Bob could take the pink jersey at the end of the day. Thanks to the superb effort of Brambilla, the 23-year-old lived the dream and donned the famous jersey, thus becoming the first Luxembourger in more than half a century to top the overall rankings at the Corsa Rosa.
Not only that Bob was leading the GC in the second week of his first ever Giro d'Italia, he was also in possession of the white jersey, which he seized at the end of stage 4, following a powerful and surprising sprint on a day suited to the fast men of the peloton. Motivated, resilient and showing a maturity well beyond his age, Jungels fought hard even after losing the maglia rosa on the stage to Cividale del Friuli and always stayed in contact with the riders in the top 10. An impressive ride in the uphill time trial to Alpe di Siusi helped the Luxembourg champion jump four positions in the general classification and book a place in the top 10, which he didn't leave anymore until the race was over.
Etixx – Quick-Step, which lined up for the Corsa Rosa a young team, continued to play a major role regardless of the terrain, every rider bringing his valuable contribution to the overall success. Another extra proof of the team's fantastic spirit and unity came on stage 18, when Gianluca Brambilla was a key man in one of the best team tactical efforts seen in recent years at a Grand Tour, which ended up with Matteo Trentin's intelligent and well-deserved victory in Pinerolo, his maiden win on home soil.
As the Giro d'Italia progressed and entered in its final phase, Bob became stronger and stronger, displaying a scintillating form and a solid confidence, which took him to 6th place in the standings, a result which few would have predicted at the beginning of a competition that served also as a learning curve for him: "At this moment it's hard to say what this jersey means for my career. What I do know is that I've been working really hard for this and that it will take a week or so until I'll asses my performance. Right now, I'm speechless. For me, the most important thing in this Giro was the team, without the guys I wouldn't stand here today. I am proud of my result, of the entire team and I will continue to work hard."
Another man who couldn't hide his joy in Torino was sport director Davide Bramati. Following the riders from the car since Apeldoorn, he witnessed the team performing strongly across the three weeks and delivering many quality performances, and at the end of this very successful campaign in Italy, had words of praise for each and every one of Etixx – Quick-Step's riders.
There's no doubt about it, this is one of the best races in the history of our team.
"We were always there and knew how to adapt to the course and the various situations we faced. Four stage wins with Marcel, Gianluca and Matteo was already something incredible, but to wear the pink jersey for a total of six days and to win the best young rider classification is really a magnificent achievement. Bob passed an important exam and if he will continue to improve, then he can aim really high at a Grand Tour. His impressive ride kept everyone motivated in the closing stages of the race, but the real difference was made by the team's fantastic spirit. That is what's really great at Etixx – Quick-Step: it doesn't matter what your name is, here everybody is always ready and willing to work for the others", concluded Bramati after the first Grand Tour of 2016.
Patrick Lefevere, Etixx – Quick-Step's CEO, congratulated the riders in Torino, where the Giro d'Italia concluded for the second time in history, and predicted a great future for the riders who flew the flag high for the team at the Corsa Rosa: "I'm very happy and extremely proud. This is a young team, with a huge potential, and I'm sure the riders will continue to grow in the years to come. Our results were extraordinary and the victories were great also because of the way we got them, showing panache, confidence and an incredible team spirit every time."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele