Iljo Keisse (Etixx-QuickStep) endured a love and hate relationship with this year’s Giro d’Italia. He jokingly described the race as "horrible" after suffering during the three weeks of intense racing but also said his stage win in Milan was the best victory of his career.
“It was a very hard Giro but winning the last stage was a good way to end it all,” he said after beating breakaway companion Luke Durbridge of Orica-GreenEdge after they used their track skills and speed to evade the grasp of the peloton hoping for a sprint finish in Milan.
Keisse and Durbridge broke away with 30km to go on the 5.3km Milan finishing circuit, and with the some of the sprinters’ teams playing bluff and refusing to work together, they opened a gap and were able to stay away and fight for victory. Durbridge tried to force Keisse to start the sprint first but the Belgian is a talented Madison rider on the track and won with ease when he opened his sprint.
“It’s been my third Giro in a row and for sure it’s been the hardest one of all," Keisse said. "I’ve finished the Giro almost six hours behind, that’s almost another stage behind. Two years ago we won five stages with Mark Cavendish and last year we were second with Uran. This year we didn’t get anything and it was really hard. We had a tough time.
"Uran suffered from sickness, so we didn’t get the results we had hoped for, we also bad luck by losing two guys early on. The Astana team made every stage hard. Nothing went as normal, it was a hard fight from the first day to the last. It’s been a horrible Giro even if it ended well. However I’m very happy for this win and so now we can go home with one stripe on our name.
“We had a plan for the stage," Keisse said. "Yesterday (Etixx-QuickStep directeur sportif) Davide Bramati told us that Milan didn’t have to end in a sprint. There were some tricky corners on the circuit. I can take corners pretty well and so for sure I was going to try something, perhaps in the last two kilometres or in the final corners.
"Tinkoff-Saxo was on front and the sprinters teams didn’t seem to want to control things, so I had a feeling that it was the right moment to go. We took every corner full gas and Luke was a great guy to be away with. I finished it off with my best victory ever.”