It has been a successful two weeks for the Belgian team and especially for Jungels. He has worn the maglia rosa for five days and has now become the first Luxembourg rider to win a stage at the Giro d'Italia since the legendary climber Charly Gaul.
His Giro d'Italia has arguably been even better than last year, when he also wore pink, won the best young rider's white jersey and finished sixth overall. He is currently eighth overall after losing some time on the Blockhaus and Oropa mountain finishes but this year he has the advantage of the final time trial to Milan to make up for any losses in the mountains. He appears to be on a consistent career trajectory, carried along by Quick-Step Floors love for winning as much as possible.
"If you come with a sprinter like Fernando to a Grand Tour, you expect to win one or two stages. But this was the 15 stage and our fifth win for us. One third [place] is not too bad…" Jungels said with some happy irony.
"In truth, it's an exception even for us. We have a great team spirit here and I'm super proud to finish off the work of the guys. I'm very proud to wear the colours of my country and my team on my shoulders. I think Luxembourg is going crazy again and I'm proud to be the reason for that."
Jungels is known for his time trialling ability but also enjoys mixing it in the Classics. Today's finale in the Bergamasco hills was very similar to recent editions of Il Lombardia. He rode the hectic finale with a cool mind and fast legs, attacking over the top and then timing his sprint perfectly on the fast, slightly downhill finish. Other riders in the select front group were perhaps faster in a sprint but he rode a perfect finish.
"It was the first sprint I've won in a race like this," he revealed. "This was more my kind of racing, it was pretty full gas from the start and like a Classic. Compared to yesterday, where it was easy before the last climb and then full gas means I always suffer a little. I'm super happy with this victory.
"When I crossed the line I thought someone was perhaps in front. I didn't know the downhill, it was quite exciting. In the sprint, when Mollema went on the left, I could follow Pozzovivo and could wait, wait, wait. Then Pinot and Adam Yates went and I was there and waited until the last moment. It was perfect."
Comparisons with Indurain and Dumoulin
Tom Dumoulin's impressive riding has sparked comparisons to Miguel Indurain thanks to his ability to dominate the time trial stages, gain a chunk of time on his biggest rivals, and then ride strongly in the mountain stages despite not being a pure climber.
Jungels' performance today also sparked a comparison to Dumoulin. He is two years younger than the Dutchman but has many similar traits, including his coolness under pressure and a sharp mind.
"They're a couple of riders I look up to for sure, they have the same kind of style of racing as I do, I'm just a little but slower uphill," he said with a genuine reverence for Indurain and especially Dumoulin.
"Tom is faster in time trials and uphill. He's just stronger at the moment. There's still a week to come in the Giro so we'll see how things will end up. I had a good final week last year and I hope the same happens this year."
Jungels proudly pushed back at a question about what he needs to change to become as strong as Dumoulin and so fight for victory in Grand Tours.
"It's actually hard to say because you can't change the nature of your body. Five days in pink, time in white and a stage win means I don't think I have to change too much," he said.
As a Grand Tour rouleur, Jungels knows he will have to fight to limit his losses in the final week in the Alps and Dolomites. But buoyed by his success, he seems ready to suffer and is hoping his bad days are behind him after losing time on the Blockhaus and to Oropa.
"It's going to be a very hard week, they've put all the big, big climbs into the last week this year," he pointed out.
"I just hope my bad days are gone now. Sometimes your body doesn't respond like you want to and it's always hard for me if it's not too hard the whole day with a hard climb at the end, it's not my kind of racing. Today was more like a Classic and that suits me better.
"It's going to be an interesting final week with the pure climbers up against Dumoulin. But I think I can play a good role too."
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