Etixx-QuickStep came away from the Giro d'Italia with a hugely successful haul, winning four stages, having three stints in the maglia rosa and seeing Bob Jungels claim the white jersey and finish sixth overall. It was undoubtedly one the Belgian team's best ever Grand Tour showings and, with Jungels highly impressing in the mountains, the team have unearthed a genuine GC candidate for the future.
"I'm super happy obviously. My sixth place in the GC overwhelms me more than the white jersey but I'm really grateful for what happened in the last few weeks," Jungels said post-race.
The Luxembourg rider came into the race as an outsider for the top ten. However he climbed consistently throughout the first half of the race and secured the race lead after a fine performance in the first long time trial. Despite cracking under pressure in the mountains he held on in a difficult final week, even climbing up the standings while many around him lost time.
"It was a goal to show that I'm able to be a GC rider for the future. I think that there is still a lot of work to do but at least I showed I'm not invisible.
"I think my highlights were when I got into pink and then the stage where I saw my parents after the stage. Without the team, I would not be able to stand here in white and in sixth in the general classification. Brambilla sacrificed himself a few times and the others always kept me safe. When we had the jersey we were riding and controlling the race. I think it has been an amazing team effort."
Jungels singed for Etixx after several seasons at Trek. He had a mini-breakthrough during last year's Tour de France, enjoying a consistent final week in the mountains before finishing in the top 40 on GC. This Giro performance has raised the bar, although he admits that his latest three-week ride has not net sunk in.
"At this moment it's hard to say what this jersey means for my career. What I do know is that I've been working really hard for this and that it will take a week or so until I'll asses my performance. Right now, I'm speechless. For me, the most important thing in this Giro was the team, without the guys I wouldn't stand here today. I am proud of my result, of the entire team and I will continue to work hard."
For Davide Bramati, the team's director at the Giro this year, the team's performance was all about consistency and sticking together. Marcel Kittel won two stages in the opening week, before Gianluca Brambilla won stage 8 and wore pink. Matteo Trentin also claimed a stage in the final week.
"We were always there and knew how to adapt to the course and the various situations we faced. Four stage wins with Marcel, Gianluca and Matteo was already something incredible, but to wear the pink jersey for a total of six days and to win the best young rider classification is really a magnificent achievement," he said.
"Bob passed an important exam and if he will continue to improve, then he can aim really high at a Grand Tour. His impressive ride kept everyone motivated in the closing stages of the race, but the real difference was made by the team's fantastic spirit. That is what's really great at Etixx–Quick-Step: it doesn't matter what your name is, here everybody is always ready and willing to work for the others."