Every pro rider dreams of taking their first victory – when will it come? What will it be like? How will it feel?
Today, Thibau Nys was able to answer all of those burning questions at the Tour of Norway, and he couldn’t have done it in a better fashion.
Racing through the Norwegian mountains with snow banks on either side of the road, Trek-Segafredo quietly got to work. There was a strong break up the road, and after 6th and 4th in the prologue and first stage, Thibau Nys fancied his chances to grab a top result. Look at the results sheet and it seems like cycling is an individual sport, but you only have to watch it for a few minutes to understand that riders are sacrificing themselves for their teammates to have a shot at glory; a glory they will all share as they exchange stories around the dinner table before a victory toast.
Pulling back the breakaway isn’t an enviable task, and nor is it glamourous, but without it there would be no victory to even race for. Asbjørn Hellemose and Markus Hoelgaard gave their all to reel in the escapees, finally making the catch with 1.7km remaining. From there, it was a battle for positioning. The race would be decided on a narrow and punchy climb – a scenario that suited Thibau’s perfect combination of explosive power and light weight. Overtaking on the climb would be almost impossible, so it was even more important that Trek-Segafredo nailed the leadout for Thibau.
A strong attack from Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X) with 800m to go cause some panic, but Jasper Stuyven was on hand to not only pull him back, but also pilot his young compatriot Nys to the perfect position to launch his sprint. From there, Thibau kicked, immediately getting a gap, and powering away to the line.
And that is how Thibau Nys secured his first professional win – with teamwork, and panache.
“It feels like a big relief. I’m so happy to finally get the win; I was so close a lot of times this year. The team did an amazing job to get me in the front and get me in position, keeping everyone together. Jasper (Stuyven) did a hell of a leadout to put me in the front and I knew that my finish was in the last corner, I had to be too 3 there. I felt when I accelerated that no one was able to come close.
I knew that when I came around the corner I had to give it everything immediately and try to open up a gap because I’m quite explosive on a finish like this. Then I could explode a bit on the last 50m because the gap was big enough.
I think it’s going to be difficult (to win the GC) tomorrow, but we’ll try. The last couple of days have been perfect already so we’ll just try to make a nice end of it and try to go for the stage as well. I hope I can stay like this because I’m feeling great, I’m feeling super happy in the team, I’m living a good life at the moment.”
(Courtesy of Sprint Cycling)