Evenepoel's confidants speak out: Van Wilder ("this shit has to stop") gets backing from Vervaeke Cycling

Evenepoel's confidants speak out: Van Wilder ("this shit has to stop") gets backing from Vervaeke

Evenepoel's confidants speak out: Van Wilder ("this shit has to stop") gets backing from Vervaeke

Ilan Van Wilder's comments at Tre Valli Varesine have certainly stirred the pot. The 23-year-old Belgian surprisingly won the Italian one-day race last Tuesday by making a solo move in the last ten kilometers. However, post-race discussions revolved around his flash interview and his notably candid remarks about his actual form. Ahead of Thursday's start of the Gran Piemonte, he received backing from Louis Vervaeke.

Let's start with Van Wilder's interview from last Tuesday. After his win, he passionately spoke to the cameras, partly due to the element of surprise, but mostly because of the ongoing rumors about a potential merger or takeover between Jumbo-Visma and his team, Soudal-Quick Step. "I dedicate this win to all my teammates. We want this shit to just stop and continue as Soudal Quick-Step. We're strong enough on our own!"

Coincidentally, a day after his fierce comments, rumors emerged that team boss Patrick Lefevere is considering a sort of relaunch with the riders and staff who may be left out due to the merger or takeover. An update on the potential merger between the two WorldTour teams is expected soon. The odds of the teams merging seem quite high. As one WorldTour team can only have thirty riders, many will have to look elsewhere for opportunities. Whether Van Wilder is part of the group not transitioning to Jumbo-Visma remains unclear.

Read more below the photo.

Ilan Van Wilder

Van Wilder surprised himself with solo win

He certainly did himself a favor with his win at Tre Valli Varesine. Van Wilder, who currently has a contract with Quick Step until the end of 2025, made his move in the last eight kilometers almost inadvertently. "I actually just wanted to set the pace," he's 'forthcoming' about his acceleration that looked like a real attack. "When I realized I had a gap, I decided to go full throttle to the finish. My team director, Davide Bramati, went crazy in the chase car. He told me to time trial to the finish line. And that's what I did."

He later called it "the least expected win of my career" in a press release from The Wolfpack. "I didn't feel great during the Giro dell'Emilia last Saturday." Before that race, IDLProCycling.com spoke with Van Wilder, who didn't even think about winning during the Italian autumn races. "There are still a few great races left, so I'm looking forward to them. It's been a long season, but I hope I still have some energy left to ride well," he said. "The Italian autumn wasn't a specific target. I had other goals and have competed in them. This is a bonus for me, and I hope I can still achieve a reasonably good level." The rest is history...

Read more below the photo.

louis vervaeke
Louis Vervaeke

Vervaeke speaks of "anxious heart" and "shock"

While Van Wilder's words still echoed, it was time for Gran Piemonte on Thursday. The young Belgian didn't start, but his teammate Vervaeke did. The 29-year-old Belgian admits to IDLProCycling.com that it's currently difficult being a rider for Quick Step. "The Vuelta was tough, and then it's about keeping the momentum until you feel you are done. With all the fuss, it's not easy to stay focused on the race; we're looking forward to some rest."

With permission from the press officer, Vervaeke then commented on Van Wilder's remarks. It's clear that the two Belgians share similar sentiments. "I think everyone in this team is anxious. A takeover isn't just an everyday thing, and we truly are a family at Soudal-Quick Step. Everyone is shocked by the news and wondering what will happen now. We're a close-knit group, so this isn't straightforward."

Revisiting better times brings back smiles. Like Van Wilder, Vervaeke had an excellent year alongside team leader and finisher Remco Evenepoel. "It was a year with ups and downs, like every season. The Giro was painful because we were in a position to win. So it was very unfortunate that Remco had to leave the race due to corona. All our intense preparation was for nothing. But winning Liège-Bastogne-Liège, those are beautiful memories."

Place comments



More comments

You are currently seeing only the comments you are notified about, if you want to see all comments from this post, click the button below.

Show all comments

More Cycling News