Valter wants to 'cause damage' after Strade dream turned into an ordeal: "I hope the team knows what happened" Cycling

Valter wants to 'cause damage' after Strade dream turned into an ordeal: "I hope the team knows what happened"

Valter wants to 'cause damage' after Strade dream turned into an ordeal: "I hope the team knows what happened"

Just when you get to be the main man in the world's biggest cycling team, your body rebels... Attila Valter was exceptionally strong heading into the Strade Bianche and felt good during the time trial at the Tirreno-Adriatico the day after the race. Unfortunately, Saturday in Tuscany didn't go as hoped. had an extensive conversation with the Hungarian on both Saturday and Monday.

The 25-year-old Valter started his second season with Visma | Lease a Bike in February. In his first year, he mainly worked as a domestique for the many leaders, though he still managed a fourth place in the Tour of Norway on his own accord. He also rode impressively in the Strade Bianche. After placing fourth in 2022, he came fifth in 2023. Thus, during the winter - while planning the 2024 schedules - Valter was designated as the leader for the white roads.

"It’s normal for me to often play a supporting role in this team, but to be the protected man and leader in a big race like Strade Bianche, I almost find it hard to say out loud. It's really amazing," Valter enthused before the start of Strade Bianche to this website. After a fifth place in the UAE Tour, he seemed all set. "I changed coaches because Marc Lamberts went to BORA-hansgrohe. I now have Jonas Vingegaard's coach (Tim Heemskerk), and so far, it looks very good. I’ve managed to improve all my metrics, and I got the chance right away in the first two races. I seized it in the UAE Tour, I’ve never achieved such a good result in a classification. I’m proud of that."

Valter didn't look beyond the Emirates and Tuscany at the start in Siena. "In this team, we prepare everything well in advance. If you achieve good results, your season planning doesn’t immediately change. Exceptional performances will create opportunities, but for instance, I was already the designated leader for Strade Bianche in the winter. It's gratifying that I could confirm that plan in the UAE Tour. However, my role in the upcoming races won’t change overnight. I’m now focusing mainly on the races that are coming up soon. It's incredible to get such opportunities, and it also brings additional pressure. When you're the leader in this team, you better seize that opportunity with both hands. On the other hand, if you get the chance in this team, you'll be ready for it."

Read more below the photo.

Valter wants to 'cause damage' after Strade dream turned into an ordeal: "I hope the team knows what happened"

Valter rarely went as deep as in Strade Bianche

All signs were positive, yet Valter finished Strade Bianche in nineteenth place. Along the way, the Hungarian champion was often seen battling at the back of the favorites' group, and that's how it felt, Valter stated after his Tirreno time trial on Monday. "I had a very tough Strade Bianche. I didn't feel super good, but since I was the protected rider, I wanted to perform well. I haven't often gone so deep to still secure a top-twenty finish. Nineteenth isn’t great, but it’s not terribly bad either."

After the race, some channels suggested that Valter might not have been entirely fit. It seemed like an unfounded rumor, but Valter admits it was true. "I wasn't very sick, but I did miss the recon. The team knew I wasn’t feeling great, but I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. It’s just an excuse, but I think I wasn’t completely healthy. My form is good, and I felt very good in the UAE Tour, so it wasn’t that. In today's time trial, I also felt good, so what I missed in Strade Bianche was those few percent, and then you’re struggling all day."

"Of course, I was disappointed, but I did what I could," he says about it. "I was dropped twenty times, but kept fighting and came back twenty times. I kept believing, even though I knew I wasn't going to compete for the podium. That's why I still helped Christophe with a water bottle; he looked strong," he refers to Christophe Laporte, who finished tenth as the top-ranked rider for Visma | Lease a Bike in Piazza del Campo.

Read more below the photo.

Valter wants to 'cause damage' after Strade dream turned into an ordeal: "I hope the team knows what happened"

From leading to working for others again for Valter

Hearing him speak, you can't help but feel for him. Valter really wanted to fulfill his role as a leader, but unfortunately, it wasn't to be. "I never gave up, didn’t succumb to the pressure, but my legs just wouldn’t respond. It’s unfortunate to have such a day in one of your favorite races, but you can't choose that. It's a tough sport, with a long journey back after the UAE Tour and a change in temperature. It just wasn’t my day."

Valter hopes that Visma | Lease a Bike recognizes that he tried to make the best of it despite his body’s resistance. A new opportunity will come naturally, even now as he will be working at the front for Vingegaard in the Tirreno. "When I was sitting on the bus on Saturday, I was already looking forward to pulling at the front for Jonas. That's also beautiful, when someone takes the stress off your shoulders. I enjoyed being the leader and hope the team knows what happened. They will give me the chance again, and I will fight for it. However, fighting for your leader is also beautiful, especially for a nice guy like Jonas. I’m looking forward to it, I can cause damage if I recover well."

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