The Belgian talked about his victory in the last race of the season and the team’s show of strength.

I remember De Panne like it was yesterday, and that’s because the team was truly outstanding on that day and perfectly mastered the terrible weather conditions, which included strong wind and a lot of rain. We dominated the race and showed our strength in numbers throughout the day, and in the end, I could finish it off, which made me happy, because I could repay my incredible teammates for all their hard work.

The race was hectic from the off due to the crosswinds, which split the peloton early before a regrouping took place. I remember things calming down for a bit, but then, with 100 kilometers to go it was game on again. Our team responded present and made the first selection with all seven guys, and then, as the race went on and the peloton was being whittled down, we continued to have the numbers at the front and show our collective force and Wolfpack spirit.

In the final part of the race, there were four of us in a leading group of eight and we put a lot of pressure on our opponents. Inside ten kilometers to go, Tim attacked and delivered a solid effort, but they brought him back. As soon as that happened, I noticed that the others were a bit on the limit while I still had something left, so I just attacked and opened a small gap which I continued to extend and carry all the way to the line.

Getting my first victory of the year in the last World Tour race was really important, because in the summer I had crashed at Milano-Torino just as I was preparing to reach peak form and missed many races. This kind of win gives you a lot of confidence and makes you more relaxed going into the winter, it allows you to start the off-season with a completely different mindset and that really counts. Not just the victory made me happy, but also having Tim – who is a great friend – with me on the podium. Everybody knows how much he works for the team and what a consistent season he had had, so it was really nice and special to see him there and share that unforgettable moment with him.


Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images

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