Arnhem resident Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) had the best of homecoming presents on stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia as the 38-year-old Dutchman stepped onto the winner’s podium as the new King of the Mountains leader just a few metres from his front door.
Already in the breakaway on stage 2 but unable to stop Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) from claiming the top spot on the stage’s lone fourth category climb and move into the Mountains lead, on Sunday it was a very different story for Tjallingii, born in north Holland but now resident in a more southerly part of the country.
Tjallingii was once again in the break of the day, but on Sunday on the stage’s lone classified climb, the Posbank, the LottoNL-Jumbo rider was fastest to the top. As a result, in Arnhem, even though Tjallingii finally was dropped from the leading break in the last hour’s racing, as the new King of the Mountains leader, the Giro's regionale de l’etape - as the French call the local rider in a bike race - made it onto the winners’ podium in the Dutch town.
“When I accelerated away on the Posbank, I pushed so hard, I forgot that I had another 45 kilometres to race,” Tjallingii, a heftily built Classics and time trial specialist who plans to retire after the ZLM Tour later this summer, said. “I thought, ‘ouch, that’s going to be a problem.’
“But then the realisation I would have the King of the Mountains jersey in my own town whatever happened made me cheer up a bit, and I forced myself through the pain.”
“The last three kilometres I got cramps, but luckily I made it through to the finish. To be on the Giro d'Italia podium in my town with my children around me is a unique moment of my career, and it’s come just before it is over, too.”
If Tjallingii needed extra motivation, he could draw it from the fact that the Giro d’Italia route twice passed by his own home, a scant 250 metres from the stage's finish line in Arnhem. A large party was reportedly already in progress in his back garden before the stage had finished, and following Tjallingii’s success, presumably it got even bigger.
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