Vervaeke discusses characters of Thomas and Roglic: "Conversation doesn't go beyond saying good morning" Cycling

Vervaeke discusses characters of Thomas and Roglic: "Conversation doesn't go beyond saying good morning"

Vervaeke discusses characters of Thomas and Roglic: "Conversation doesn't go beyond saying good morning"

The Giro d'Italia had its fair share of ups and downs for Soudal-Quick Step. On one hand, the team achieved success with Remco Evenepoel's victories in the first two time trials, and he wore the pink jersey for a few stages. However, Evenepoel's withdrawal due to a COVID-19 infection was a major disappointment, as winning the Giro was the reigning world champion's main goal. On the podcast Vals Plat, teammate Louis Vervaeke looked back on Soudal-Quick Step's tumultuous Giro edition.

"We knew something was up during the time trial," Vervaeke said regarding Evenepoel's withdrawal. "You could tell from his face. He also came into the bus before the time trial, and I thought he had taken a nap at the hotel, but he came straight after the recon. That's when I noticed he looked very tired," said Vervaeke, who did witness his team leader win the time trial. Later, in the flash interview, it was clear that Evenepoel appeared far from healthy, which was confirmed by the news that came later in the evening.

"Some team leaders and the doctor were also missing, and that's when I knew something was wrong."

Louis Vervaeke

"That was really impressive," Vervaeke says, referring to Evenepoel's time trial victory. "As an athlete, you start out with a certain plan, and then you eventually feel that it's not working out. In fact, you're weakening. Then, at the last intermediate point, you hear that you're tied for time, while you expected to be fifty seconds ahead. To motivate yourself again in that situation, and win the time trial by a second with tired legs. That was truly pure determination."

Later in the evening, the bad news came. Vervaeke sensed the approaching disaster. "It was a very strange moment because we had just won the time trial. We were supposed to have dinner half an hour later so that Evenepoel could join us at the table. But it kept taking longer and longer. Some team leaders and the doctor were also missing, and that's when I knew something was wrong. The image of him after the time trial came back to me. I told Ilan (Van Wilder, ed.): something is not right, I think he's sick." Not long after, that suspicion was confirmed.

Vervaeke: "When it comes to those kinds of efforts, Roglic is world-class"

"It was a huge blow, of course," the climber recounts regarding his team leader's withdrawal. "We put in so much preparation, and to have it all fall apart in the end is really disappointing. On the other hand, he did win two stages." Evenepoel's withdrawal meant that Vervaeke could now race for himself. "I was super motivated to go for a stage win because I had noticed in Mallorca and in the Flèche Wallonne that I had some cards to play when I could ride for myself."

However, it wouldn't come to that for Vervaeke. Soudal-Quick Step suffered another blow after the tenth stage. Vervaeke and three other riders also tested positive for COVID-19. "On Tuesday, the four of us tested positive. We had to sit at one table together and looked at the three remaining riders. You feel for them; they still have to ride with just the three of them, for two more weeks. How do you cope with that? After that, I didn't follow the Giro closely anymore. I heard from someone that Ballerini (Davide, ed.) had also gone home. 'You're kidding,' that was my reaction. There were just two left on our team, and that was a bit sad."

While Vervaeke initially didn't follow the Giro, he tuned in for the final week. "I thought the battle between Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas was quite exciting, and I was curious to see who would come out on top." Vervaeke also discussed the duel with Evenepoel. "I talked about it with Remco. Thomas' strength lies in those five to six-hour stages at a high pace. On the other hand, Roglic, for example, is better in a stage with just a final climb, like the one finishing on Lo Port in Catalonia. Those guys rode at 6.7 watts per kilogram for half an hour. When it comes to those kinds of efforts, Roglic is world-class. INEOS should have known that, and they should have made the race a bit tougher prior to the individual time trial."

Vervaeke on Roglic: "He has his own bubble around him"

When it comes to which of the two is more likable, Vervaeke leans towards Thomas, who gained admiration in the final stage of the Giro by helping his former teammate Mark Cavendish to a stage victory. "He is incredibly likable," Vervaeke says, confirming the perception most cycling fans have of the man from Wales. "And he is very approachable and relaxed. He likes to crack a joke. Roglic is a bit shy and more in his own world. He is friendly, but you don't spontaneously strike up a conversation with him," Vervaeke says of the Giro winner.

The two also crossed paths during their preparations for the Giro on Tenerife, where most GC riders train for the Grand Tours. "But the conversation doesn't go beyond saying a simple good morning," Vervaeke reveals. "He has his own bubble around him, and it's quite closed off. Meanwhile, we were also there with Bahrain Victorious. Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig would occasionally come over for a chat, but not Roglic. However, I do get the impression that he gets along very well with his teammates."

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