The Dutchman looked back on his sensational performance at the year’s final Grand Tour.
“Winning my first Grand Tour stage just four days into La Vuelta was a dream! I remember how moments after I had crossed the line I was thinking of my family and my team, my second family, because they were the reason I was there. The road to that moment had been a long one, but I made it with the support I got and took what I still consider to be the most beautiful victory of my career.”
“To double up in the same week meant a lot to me, because two years before that I had taken a brace of stage wins at my Vuelta debut, and the moment I repeated that feat was special. The finale was a hectic one that day in La Manga del Mar Menor, with both the sprinters and the GC teams jostling for position, but I had once again a fantastic team around me and that made the difference. It was an important victory also because it allowed me to retake the green jersey, which was an important boost of confidence at that time.”
“The third and final win was the most hard-earned one. Some teams pushed hard on the small hills inside the final 40 kilometers and I got dropped, but knowing I could rely on my amazing teammates allowed me to remain calm and they brought me back, making sure I was where I needed to be for the last 15 kilometers, which featured more hurdles. In the end, I pulled it off and it was a double celebration. I got the stage on my birthday and at the same time took the victory for the boys on that beautiful and memorable day.”
“But my biggest win was finishing the race in Santiago de Compostela, something no one would have believed that in the summer of 2020? A hat-trick of stages and the green jersey is something I would have never dreamed of at the start of the race, an achievement that was possible with the help of my teammates. They were with me everywhere – on the climbs, on the descents, in the valley – they rode themselves inside out for me and I’m incredibly grateful to them. That green jersey I took home represents the Wolfpack, everything that this stands for and our strong connection.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images