Bart De Clercq won the first mountain-top finish of this year’s Giro d’Italia today in Montevergine. He attacked from seven kilometres out, held off the charge of the favourites and had many searching Wikipedia for more information.
They wouldn’t have found much – the English page doesn’t even exist – as the 24 year-old only turned professional this year with Omega Pharma-Lotto. In fact, he’s only been racing for three years.
“I knew he was good, but f**k me, he’s done some good ride today,” British team-mate, Adam Blythe told Cycling Weekly. “It was close, but it doesn’t matter – a win’s a win.”
De Clercq won ahead of Michele Scarponi and Roman Kreuziger, both overall contenders for the race when it ends in two weeks in Milan.
“The speed wasn’t so high and so I tried, just to see where it would end,” De Clercq said in the press conference. “It turned out well. Riders should try to attack a little bit more, sometimes they look at each other too much.”
“I say to all the riders, ‘If you don’t attack, you don’t win.’ We had our chance and we won, that’s the most important thing for us,” sports director, Marc Wauters told Cycling Weekly.
“I was also surprised, though, as he’s only raced five months as a pro.”
De Clercq competed in Track and Field events but injuries sidelined him. He rode occasionally while studying physical education at Ghent University. After he graduated, he started racing because he enjoyed riding, but not because he wanted to be a professional.
“He knows everything already,” Wauters continued. “He did Paris-Nice for the first time and finished it, he’s a good rider.
“He’s really a rider for big tours, maybe he’ll have a good classification the future.”
Wauters added that he believes De Clercq will finish the race, but that a second stage win will be hard, especially since he’s now a marked rider.
“It’s always hard to say what you want you to achieve, now it’s about getting experience,” De Clercq said in the press conference. “You don’t know when you become pro what your possibilities are. It worked well today, though.”
His next accomplishment surely will be having his own Wikipedia page in English. The wins, as he said, will come with gained experience.
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Giro d’Italia 2011: Stage reports
Giro d’Italia 2011: Photo galleries
seven photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage six photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage five photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage four photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage three photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage two photo gallery by Graham Watson
Stage one photo gallery by Graham Watson
Giro d’Italia 2011: Live text coverage
Giro d’Italia 2011: Start list
Giro d’Italia 2011: TV schedule