Stunned Ethan Vernon in disbelief at Volta a Catalunya stage win: 'To win so early in my career is really special'

The Briton was too strong for the rest of the sprinters

Ethan Vernon
(Image credit: Getty)

The disbelief was palpable.

Upon crossing the line first on stage five of the Volta a Catalunya to claim his maiden professional win, Ethan Vernon attempted a wild celebration, throwing his right arm in the air, out and back again, and repeating the same manoeuvre two more times, his mouth agape to roar in delight.

There was absolutely zero choreography, but it was as beautiful as any meticulously prepared celebration for it revealed just how happy the 21-year-old was to score his first ever victory in just his 16th day as a professional.

Thirty minutes afterwards, the shock was still evident. "It hasn't sunk in yet," the tall Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sprinter told Cycling Weekly. "Maybe tomorrow it will.

"I mean, I’ve dreamed of being a professional cyclist, only a few months ago that came true, so to then win with the team in one of my first races is unbelievable."

Vernon, who grew up idolising his current teammate Mark Cavendish, admitted that he celebrated like he did because "I couldn't believe it, really", before adding that replying to the avalanche of WhatsApps on his phone will take up his entire journey to the team hotel. "We'll celebrate tonight," he confirmed.

The final in Vilanova i la Geltrú was a complicated affair with a number of roundabouts and bends, but Vernon never looked like being beaten.

He reflected: "I opened up the sprint with 200m to go and I knew it was a slight headwind so I had to go then, I got forced to go then. 

"So I was expecting someone to come round me, but I could see under my arms there was no wheels near me. The last 50m or so I realised I had it sorted. To win so early on in my professional career is something really special."

Vernon rode for Great Britain in the team pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, returning from Japan to win a stage of the Tour de l'Avenir.

He has impressed his Quick-Step team on training camps with his raw speed, but even he didn't predict that he'd have a win to his name before the clocks spring forward.

"I said at the start of the year I’d like to learn in the first half of the season, and try and win a race in the second half of the season; that’s been pushed forward a bit!" he laughed.

"But we don’t stop here, we keep going, keep learning, and hopefully more will come this year."

On stage two of the race he finished fourth, his previous best result, and he revealed that he had studied the finale in recent days to see where he could improve.

>>> Read our feature-length interview with Vernon from his team's training camp: 'I've grown up all my life idolising Cav, and now I'm rooming with him'

"We sat down and analysed the sprint from day two and where I went wrong," he said. "Well, not wrong, but where I could have done better and I put that into play today and it gave me the result we were after.

"With the legs I had on stage two, and the position in which I messed up, I was quite happy I could get a result again today. I didn’t know it would be as good as a win, but the final few hundred metres of the race I knew I had it sorted as I was third wheel back, and the sprint hadn’t started yet so I had a perfect lead-in."

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