That’s a welcome to Bob Jungels of Trek Factory Racing of course, who is too young to remember Guns’n’Roses, but the headline was too good to pass up. Jungels is one of the youngest riders in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana and riding his first Grand Tour, but the 21 year old Luxemburger is impressing many with his attitude and application.
The second year pro has been trying to get in breaks every day of the race – and succeeded on one occasion – but, more than anything, he’s determined to get through it after no fewer than three pre-race crashes almost KO’d him before the start.
“I was training in Switzerland and a guy in a car knocked me off and didn’t stop, I cut all my left side really badly, my hip, my leg, it was pretty bad (and the still livid scars back up his tale – Ed.) then I crashed again on the first day of the Tour of Poland and opened the wound up again. And then we crashed in the warm-up for the team time trial here in Spain. The body isn’t a machine you know? You can only beat it up so often before it says ‘OK, enough,’ but I’m feeling better the last couple of days,” said the fresh-faced 21 year old before the start in Oviedo.
Stage 15, between Oviedo and the legendary climb to Lagos de Covadonga, would push Jungels well into the sort of race duration and difficulty that he had experienced so far in his short pro career.
“Yeah, this is the longest race I’ve done but it’s OK, in the end, it’s just pain in the legs. It hasn’t really surprised me, it’s pretty hard racing of course, every day is hard, but the stages don’t feel long when you are actually in the race and the rest day helps.”
Getting into the break of the day is Jungels ‘job’ at the Vuelta.
“Actually getting into the break is super hard here, harder than at other races I’ve been at, because overall the level of the riders is higher. But it’s not just that which shows how much higher the level is in the Vuelta. When you look back at the first cat climb on yesterday’s stage (the 20km Puerto de San Glorio), even although we raced up it at a fast tempo, there were still more than 60 guys together at the top, normally at that high pace, on that sort of climb, there would be far fewer riders left. To get in a break here you need to have the legs, you need to have the power but also a little bit f luck.”
Considering that he looked as though he had been in the losing end of a fight with a belt-sander early in the race, young Jungels hasn’t ended up in the grupetto on any day, testimony to his form and constitution.
“I’m not here to think about my place on the general classification, that doesn’t matter at all, it’s more important for me to see that I can handle racing at this level even after two weeks of racing, so I’m pleased with the way my first Grand Tour has gone so far.”
Assuming he gets through the Vuelta without losing more skin, he’ll be at the World road and time trial championships, riding the team and individual time trial as well as the road race and, although he’s probably too young to make his mark this year, his is surely a name to keep in mind for the future.