If there was a quota on how many swear words the peloton are allowed to use in post-race interviews per edition of the Giro d'Italia, Taco van der Hoorn has likely used up all of 2021's allotted f-bombs on just day three.
"I can't believe it. With 1km to go I was looking behind to see [if they were coming]...'ah f**k, I'm going to make it, what the f**k.' Those last metres were really unbelievable,” the winner of stage three said, having come to a stop after the finish looking both relieved and bewildered before letting out an enormous "f*******k" that lasted almost as long as he had off the front.
For Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux, Van der Hoorn has not only already made their Giro campaign a success but also turned their season around. Before today, the Belgian team making their debut at WorldTour level in 2021 was yet to take a win, the only top-level outfit without a victory so far this year.
“I wanted to be in the breakaway because I want to ride aggressively the entire Giro. But I know it is difficult to make it to the finish with a leading group. But every chance, no matter how small, is one. Actually, I didn't believe we could make it when the gap at 25 kilometers was one minute," Van der Hoorn explained.
More perplexing, at the time at least, was the decision of Van der Hoorn to attack Simon Pellaud, a man for whom being in the breakaway pumps through his veins, inside the final 9km, when the leading duo still held under a minute's advantage. But while everyone watching on TV couldn't sense the Swiss rider's weakening legs after a day off the front, the Dutchman could.
“Simon rode very fast on that climb. I was at my limit there," Van der Hoorn said. “But on the descent, I benefited from my heavier weight and was better aerodynamically, and Simon was tired so that's how I got rid of him. At that moment I heard that I had 40 seconds and I went full throttle. ”
And it proved enough, as Van der Hoorn made Tommy Voeckler proud as he grimaced and threw himself over his bike, looking to get every last little drop out of his legs. He crossed the finish line in disbelief, with only four seconds to spare from the onrushing bunch.
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