With his victory in Paris-Tours, Topsport Vlaanderen's Jelle Wallays wrote himself into the record books as the first rider to win both the U23 version of the race and the elite event, but more importantly for the Belgian, he finally showed his promise after years of frustration. The 25-year-old had just signed his first pro contract with Topsport Vlaanderen when he won the U23 Paris-Tours in 2010, and hopes this year's victory will demonstrate his talent to the WorldTour teams.
"This is the most beautiful win of my career," Wallays said to Nieuwsblad.be. "I hope this opens doors because I still dream of being part of a World Tour team."
Wallays said he had been unable to get the kind of results he feels he is capable of due to bad luck and ill-timed sickness that prevented him from performing in the spring classics. "I win here partly out of frustration. I am very happy at Topsport-Vlaanderen, but I want to take a step forward to a World Tour team. I hope now that everyone has seen what I'm capable of. If I have a good spring and can race with this condition than much better times await me. I dream of that."
The victory in Paris-Tours came at the expense of Team Europcar's star rider Thomas Voeckler, and the Frenchman was furious that Wallays did not pull in the final kilometer, but the Belgian would not be deterred from his strategy. "I would have been very happy with second place, but if you take the win against such a top rider, then you can be even more happy."
"At three kilometers from the finish I actually realized that it would be between us," Wallays said. "Even at a kilometer, I looked back and I saw that we'd make it. Voeckler asked me to pull after the last turn, but I shook my head no. I played a bit of poker, and I also realized that I was on the road with a Frenchman who just wanted to win and he would certainly push to the line. That was in my head. On the climbs I felt that I could beat him. I was shocked that I came around him in the sprint, but it's good, I'm very happy. "
Voeckler failed to turn up on time for the podium ceremony, a mistake that, according to L'Equipe, cost him his prize money - €3760 plus a 200 Swiss Franc fine.