Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) may have crossed the finish line of stage 6 of the Tour de Pologne visibly dissatisfied with his performance but finally, the young Dutch racer was able to claim the first win in his career after hitting the crossbars several more times than he would have liked.
Arensman's pair of second places in this year's Giro d'Italia, including the final time trial after his team leader Romain Bardet quit the race ill on stage 13, were two of the sorest near-misses after he picked up a third place in the Vuelta a España's final time trial last year. Until today, victory remained elusive.
Well into his second half of the season at the Tour de Pologne, the 22-year-old clinched the win he wanted so badly. However, with 18 riders at less than a minute on the final stage classification, including runner-up Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) at a mere seven seconds behind, this was a close-run affair where the slightest error could have made a colossal difference.
"I didn't have super legs like I wanted, the power was not what I can normally do," Arensman told reporters afterwards as he explained why he had not looked happy at the finish.
"Maybe in the end with hindsight I started a little bit too fast and I didn't have as much energy on the steep parts where normally you can gain the most time.
"So I could have done it better, I just want to keep improving and that's normal for a pro cyclist.
"But of course, too, I'm happy with the victory and in the end, it was enough, though it could have been a little bit faster."
Arensman said that as the time trial was uphill, although it was only 11 kilometres long, it felt a shade more drawn out than the distance on the map suggested.
"Normally I like longer TTs, but it was still an 18-minute effort, that's long for a time trial and I guess I can be happy with the victory."
Arensman is now second overall, a bare 11 seconds behind Ethan Hayter (Ineos), and clearly showing good form. But the Dutchman said he has no idea of what his race program will be in the weeks to come. "That's up to the team, they'll announce it," he said, "I'm sure they have a really nice program for me."
Either way, taking his first professional victory in Pologne is a landmark moment and one of which Arensman was visibly proud.
"I really wanted a victory in the Giro for Romain and I nearly got it and it would have been important for him and for DSM. That was frustrating to have one guy who was always a little bit better.
"But I kept going and in the end, I'm really happy to take the first win here, in the WorldTour. It's one of the nicest days in my career."
As for his options on the Pologne GC going forward, despite being second, Arensman did not hold out much hope of springing a last-minute upset, hinting that after the welter of crashes that have hit Pologne this year, it was probably best not to take too many risks.
"Normally, tomorrow [Friday] is about staying upright and getting safe to the finish and letting the sprinters do their thing," Arensman said. "Pretty much everything was decided today."
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