Mauri Vansevenant (Soudal-QuickStep) said over the winter that he would “never be a winner,” but he proved himself wrong with a vengeance on Wednesday at the Tour of Oman.
The 23-year-old Belgian claimed the Soudal-QuickStep team’s 900th win of their history on the Jabal Al Akhdhar summit finish, the toughest of the entire race, and he came within one second of capturing the overall win from Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar).
Jorgenson finished close behind the Belgian to hang on to the outright victory on the Jabal Al Akhdar’s punishingly steep slopes. But after clawing his way back to a late attack by the American then forging ahead, Vansevenant – whose family had come to Oman to watch him race – managed to clinch a notable triumph.
Vansevenant’s Omani success was all the more special given that he had only raised his arms in victory once before in his professional career, at the GP Industria & Artigianato in 2021. Furthermore, over the winter the 23-year-old Belgian had somewhat gloomily, or perhaps realistically, insisted he was “not a winner,” and saw himself serving more often as a helper than a leader.
“Weeklong stage races? I don’t know,” Vansevenant told Het Laatste Nieuws. “I need to get more mature at that. Look, I’m never going to be a winner. Not before and not now.
“I’m not strong enough in the sprint, my time trial isn’t great either, downhill the same story. I often lack something to go for a victory.
“But if that doesn’t work out, I think I can hold my own in finals to help teammates to victory. There will always be opportunities, but not ten in a year.”
Vansevenant also told Het Laatste Nieuws, however, that in the case of the absence of Remco Evenepoel or Julian Alaphilippe in a race line-up, the team would always be willing to give him the freedom to go for breaks or act as a leader. And in Oman, that last role certainly seemed to suit him well.
“It was incredibly hard, a 5k climb at more than 10% average, so I was pushing all the time,” Vansevenant said after his victory atop Green Mountain. “And also the heat was incredible today.
“But I had a good feeling, so I tried to go for GC, but I was too late. I got a victory, though, so that’s not so bad.”
Vansevenant said that teammate Jan Hirt, the defending champion in Oman, who also won on Jabal Al Akhdhar, had provided him with some important advice “to wait until the last two kilometres where it gets really steep and go for it after that.”
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