'I've been chasing this victory for so many years': Pello Bilbao overcome with emotion after home Basque Country win

The Bahrain-Victorious rider hopes that Sonny Colbrelli was impressed by his sprint

Pello Bilbao
(Image credit: Getty)

There are some victories which mean way more than the ones that precede them. 

For Pello Bilbao, his win on stage three of the Tour of the Basque Country marked the accomplishment of a lifelong dream.

A rider born just 40 minutes away from the finishing town of Amurrio, Bilbao is racing the tour of his home province for the seventh time. He's once finished third on a stage, and last year came even closer with a second-place, but finally on Wednesday the two-time Giro d'Italia stage victor achieved what he's always wanted to do.

"It's difficult to express it all, above all because I've been chasing this victory for so many years," he said afterwards, giving interviews in Spanish, English and his native tongue, Euskara. 

"It's an incredible feeling. All the victories are special for one reason or the other, but this one at home was maybe the one I was waiting for for the longest time.

"Last year I came so close, and with this energy and emotion inside me, finally I could show. It's great for my wife Andrea and our kid that is coming."

It is the 32-year-old's third victory for since joining Bahrain-Victorious in 2020, and the team's first since Sonny Colbrelli collapsed after stage one of the Volta a Catalunya.

The Italian has since been fitted with a defibrillator, and Bilbao said that he hoped his teammate was watching his triumph back at home.

"It's special," he said. "I know I am not a rider like Sonny who has the special instinct to go for victories. I needed to fight a long time to achieve this goal.

"I also hope that Sonny was watching on the TV and also enjoying my victory. For sure sometimes he needs to teach me how to go in the last kilometre, but today I think he will agree with me that I sprinted the best."

After a cagey final 20 kilometres where multiple riders looked like trying to force an attack, it came down to a select group finish with Bilbao just getting the better of world champion and the previous day's victor Julian Alaphilippe.

>>> 'Suffering' Primož Roglič on Jonas Vingegaard: 'We are the same; he could win the Basque Country'

"I knew that today was going to be a tough stage and there wasn't a clear favourite," he said. "I knew Julian would be there, but it wasn't always easy to control with only one teammate, but they controlled it perfectly like yesterday.

"But I had the inspiration, a little bit of luck, and the intention to fight for Julian's wheel. I could sprint from far and in the last few metres when it got steeper, I could overcome him in the last metres."

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.