Florian Sénéchal: Vuelta a España win is a reward for hard work

Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 13 at Vuelta a Espana
Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins stage 13 at Vuelta a Espana (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

“You weren’t the Frenchman we expected and you weren’t the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider we expected, but you got that victory,” the Vuelta a España commentator observed to stage 13 winner Florian Sénéchal, after the 28-year-old snatched a unexpected but utterly well-deserved victory in Friday’s chaotic bunch sprint.

Best known as a Classics rider, Sénéchal is currently building for the World Championships and Paris-Roubaix at the Vuelta a España this year. 

Sénéchal revealed to reporters after his stage victory that he is also the Belgian team’s Plan B for Vuelta bunch sprints when double stage winner Fabio Jakobsen is not feeling on top of his game, or as may have been the case on Friday, has a mechanical or flat tyre.

“He radioed through to me with two kilometres to go to say he wasn’t going to be able to go for it, and that I had my chance,” Sénéchal said minutes after adding his first-ever Grand Tour stage win to the two northern semi-Classics already in his palmares. "He said on the radio he had a flat tyre or something and said 'Florian you can sprint'.

“So, I eased back as best I could and then went for it at about 200 metres from the line.”

Second in the E3 Harelbeke Classic this spring, Sénéchal said he had done a lot of sprint training over the summer to try and be in form “for the Vuelta and from there for the Worlds and Roubaix," he said.

“I’m also surprised I won, we were all expecting Fabio to be there. But this is my reward for all my hard work.”

Sénéchal explained that although there are a large number of sprinters in the Deceuninck-QuickStep roster, he still has his options when it comes down to a mass dash for the line.

“Fabio is maybe the fastest of us all, then [Mark] Cavendish and [Sam] Bennett, Davide Ballerini … I’m maybe the fourth or fifth. In terms of pure numbers I’m less strong than a Fabio or Ballerini or Alvaro Hodeg, for example.

“But it all depends on how the race plays out and in a Classic I can be fast,” he concluded. And to judge from Friday’s finish, in the Vuelta a España as well.

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