Ilan Van Wilder insists it didn’t make a difference to the result but nevertheless acknowledged that his premature celebration on stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve wounded his pride.
“It’s just a bit stupid, but what can you do now?” the Soudal-QuickStep rider told Cyclingnews at the summit finish on the Alto da Foia.
“I’m disappointed. That’s all I can say.”
Van Wilder struck out early as 20 riders survived the 7.5km final climb and scrambled for the line. Even in the headwind that greeted the late final bend, he held his speed and was looking good for his first victory as a professional.
He celebrated it, too, but as he raised his right arm he looked to his left and saw a flash of pink. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) had somehow snatched it.
“I celebrated but then I saw on the side that Cort came with his wheel on the finish line. It’s a real pity,” Van Wilder said.
It’s hard to know whether the celebration was just an embarrassing error, or whether the early post-up amounted to the more maddening consequence of costing him victory. Van Wilder seemed to raise his arm just shy of the line, while Cort, who had the inside line, was producing a dramatic bike throw.
Margins are often fine at this level, but Van Wilder, for now at least, wasn’t left with any real sense of regret.
“I think I celebrated on the line. I don’t think I celebrated too early,” he said.
“Of course, I’m disappointed. We always want to win and I think I did everything perfectly. I went quite early to launch my attack because I knew if I waited too long there were faster guys than me, so I went quite far, with the headwind.
“I thought I had won but then realised no. It’s a pity but that’s life.”
Nevertheless, Van Wilder could take confidence from his performance, and even pro optimistic about a strong overall finish at the Volta ao Algarve. Another summit finish awaits on Saturday’s stage 4 – a shorter but steeper test at Malhao – before the decisive 24km final-day time trial.
The 22-year-old Belgian, riding his second season for Soudal-QuickStep after his early exit from DSM, is more than capable against the clock, with top-5s to his name in time trials at the Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné in 2021.
‘Even apart from the GC, I’m looking forward to the time trial because it’s already two years ago that I did a good TT,” he said.
“Last year I didn’t do a lot of TTs and the ones I did, like the Vuelta, I had to go easy because I was a helper for the GC of Remco [Evenepoel]. So I’m…
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