Thursday was a day of many unforgettable moments for the team.
Andrea Bagioli was the man responsible for another magnificent Soudal Quick-Step milestone, as he scored the 950th victory in the history of our team in front of his fans at a fast and entertaining edition of Gran Piemonte, which took place Thursday afternoon between Borgofranco d’Ivrea and Favria.
The race was also a celebration of Dries Devenyns’ career in the pro ranks, which has seen him ride hundreds of events – including 14 Grand Tours and 27 Monuments – and rack up a stunning 200000 racing kilometers over 17 unforgettable seasons, twelve of which he got to spend with our team – for whom he was not just an incredible asset, but also a symbol and an amazing member of the Wolfpack family.
Soudal Quick-Step rode phenomenally, taking the race by the scruff of its neck on the toughest of the four climbs, the Alpette. This came after a high-speed opening part, during which our team went on the offensive with Louis Vervaeke and later with Dries Devenyns, who animated things from the breakaway until around 35 kilometers to go. On the steep gradients inside the last two kilometers of the hill, Mattia Cattaneo moved to the front and pushed a huge tempo that splintered what was left of the peloton with Andrea Bagioli at all times in his wheel.
The incredible amount of work Mattia did there proved to be instrumental in the outcome, as it allowed Bagioli – a stage winner at Okolo Slovenska last month – to bolt clear on the last climb, a move to which only a handful of riders could respond. Despite many of them being quite fast finishers, they got along well and were all really committed to the effort, taking their lead to twenty seconds with two kilometers to go.
Going under the flamme rouge, a small game of cat-and-mouse ensued, but Andrea remained attentive at all times and kept his composure under pressure, rounding the left-hand corner before the finishing stretch in second wheel. The 24-year-old Italian opened up his sprint at the right moment, fending off the efforts of his opponents to capture Soudal Quick-Step’s 55th victory of what will go down as another vintage season for our squad.
“I felt good from the beginning today, and on the hard climb of Alpette I asked Mattia to go full gas, and he did a great job. I then accelerated with 16 kilometers to go, and even after the others came across, I remained confident in my chances. We shared the workload in the group all the way to the finish, where I gave my best and took this beautiful win, my first in an Italian one-day race.”
“It was my penultimate race in the colors of this amazing team with whom I spent my first four years as a pro rider and I want to thank this group for all this incredible time. This fueled my motivation for today. I improved a lot here and I am where I am today thanks to them”, added an emotional Andrea after his seventh win.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images