Second top 10 of the season for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s talented Belgian.
This year hasn’t been the smoothest so far for Ilan Van Wilder: after a strong outing in his first race with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl – the Tour de la Provence, where he finished sixth overall – a series of injuries and a bout of Covid-19 hampered the Belgian’s season, who had to skip many races, most recent of which was the Tour de Wallonie.
Vuelta a Burgos marked his first appearance since the National Championships, and the 22-year-old from Jette put in a strong display on a consistent basis, regardless of the terrain, and impressed on the race’s hardest climbs – Picon Blanco and Lagunas de Neila – a sign of his growing capabilities.
The last of these ascents brought down the curtain over the race, and Ilan sat ninth overall at the start of this final stage. An impressive ride on the 11.7km Lagunas de Neila, an ascent averaging 6.2% which has become synonymous with the Vuelta a Burgos, helped him jump up to fifth place, just seven seconds from the podium.
Against more seasoned GC riders, Ilan showed a lot of maturity and determination, remaining with the small main group until 1400 meters from the line. After being dropped on a double-digit slope, our rider continued at his pace and limited the losses as he caught and passed some of the men in front of him, finishing in the top 5 atop the climb and jumping up to fifth in the rankings, a mere seven seconds from the overall podium.
“I will be honest, I didn’t know what form I would have this week, as I was a bit sick before the Tour de Wallonie and couldn’t start there because of that. But, in any case, I had worked hard the last few weeks and was very motivated, and starting the race with a good result helped. Unfortunately, we then lost three guys to crashes, but everyone gave their best and helped me a lot.”
“On the last stage, my teammates kept me out of the wind and worked for me, and for that I want to thank them. I felt good on the climb, and when they increased the speed, I rode my own tempo because I felt that trying to match them would have meant losing more time. I passed a couple of riders and gained some positions in the general classification. A top 5 in this hard race is good for my morale and it makes me very happy to see that I am at this level after all the setbacks I faced. I’m more confident now for the next races”, Ilan said after his best ever result in a stage race.
Photo credit: ©Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images