Taco van der Hoorn, who was thinking of quitting cycling a few months ago, on Monday delivered a dramatic first Grand Tour win as he held off a chasing pack to take the third stage of the Giro d’Italia in Canale, Italy.
“Five months ago, I considered quitting cycling because I didn’t have a contract,” the 27-year-old Dutchman said. “Today I win a stage of the Giro. I can’t believe it.”
“After the finish I was thinking: ‘Is this real?” the Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux rider said on the podium.
The victory backed up the judgement of Van der Hoorn’s team, which is competing in its first major tour since Intermarche became the principal sponsor.
“Van der Hoorn likes to race against the clock, against the wind and against the peloton,” his biography on the team Web site says.
Asked about his goals for the rest of the race, Van der Hoorn said: “First I have to celebrate. This a dream come true. I have to celebrate it.”
Italian Davide Cimolai of Israel Start-Up Nation won the sprint for second, four seconds behind Van der Hoorn.
The stage had only a small effect on the overall standings as Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers increased his lead by three seconds to 16 seconds.
Edoardo Affini, an Italian with Team Jumbo-Visma who started the day closest to Ganna, was dropped on the climbs, allowing his Norwegian teammate Tobias Foss to inherit second place.
Behind them are two Deceuninck-Quick-Step riders, Belgian Remco Evenepoel and Portuguese Joao Almeida, both 20 seconds off the lead.
“I saw that Remco has fantastic legs,” Ganna said. “It will be difficult for me to defend the pink jersey.”
Ganna and the other favorites, including former Grand Tour winners Simon Yates of Team BikeExchange and Ineos’ Egan Bernal, finished safely in the main pack.
Van der Hoorn was part of a break that escaped the main pack 5km into the 190km stage. The breakaway disintegrated on the short sharp hills in the second half of the stage in the vineyards near Alba. With the pack closing on the two survivors, Van der Hoorn and Swiss rider Simon Pellaud of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec kept riding.
“I didn’t believe when we had one minute with 25km,” Van der Hoorn said. “I just think that 0.5 per cent, it’s enough chance and I just take it.”
He was helped by a disorganized pursuit as the leading teams in the peloton waited for their rivals to do the work and close the gap.
“For me it was so surreal that I was there in front and the peloton was not coming back at me. I didn’t believe it,” Van der Hoorn said.
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