The 21-year-old Belgian climber talked about his solid season in the U23 ranks and turning pro with Soudal Quick-Step next year.
“Last season was a great one. I started with the Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team in the Tour du Rwanda, which ended up being an amazing experience. I had never been to Rwanda before last January, but I loved it there, and the fans were phenomenal, coming in huge numbers on each stage, be it at the start, finish or along the way. I will never forget that race and I hope to be back there in the near future. It was crazy to wear the yellow jersey for two days, and that achievement, together with my third place overall, gave me a lot of confidence for the season.
From that moment one, I was in the mix in pretty much every race I did until the end of the year. I finished top ten at both Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where I was one of the strongest, only to be caught in the final meters, and Flèche Ardennaise, the latter being the hardest one-day race in Belgium. I also took my first win of the year in the Herbeaumont hill race, which was another great moment. The only thing I was a bit disappointed with was the Girobio outcome, where I had hoped to do better than eighth, but in the end, it wasn’t a bad result.
What made me very happy was winning that time trial in Belgium, in September. At the start of the year, I wouldn’t have dreamed about such a result, but that victory confirmed my progress in the discipline, which acted as a big morale-boost after all the training I had done to improve.”
Riding with the Wolfpack
“I got to do a couple of races with the Soudal Quick-Step team last year, and that experience helped me a lot. My first outing with the squad was at Coppi e Bartali, where it was crazy to win the opening stage with Rémi Cavagna and then the general classification with Mauro Schmid. It was another week that I will always remember, not just because of those wins, but also because of the great atmosphere in the team.
In the final part of the season, I got to do Tre Valli Varesini and Gran Piemonte, and we won them both with Ilan and Andrea, respectively. For me, it was unbelievable to be part of the roster several times last season and see the team win all these races I competed in. As I said, I learned a lot from riding with the pros last season and I believe that helped me when I got my biggest victory to date, the Piccolo Giro di Lombardia, after a great day of racing.”
Bring on 2024!
“The fact that just two months ago I shared the stage with Remco at the Kristallen Fiets Gala, where we both were awarded a trophy, was more than a dream, was a confirmation of the fact I am in the right place and on the right track. Belgium is cycling-obsessed, so to take that award was incredible.
I can’t wait to turn pro with Soudal Quick-Step in a couple of weeks! I already know some of the riders and the staff from the races I’ve done, and I feel I can make a lot of significant improvement here. I will look to progress and help the team whenever they will need me. It’s special to be part of Soudal Quick-Step, an organisation with such a rich history, and I hope to contribute to the team’s amazing palmares in the years to come.”
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