In the shadow of Remco Evenepoel (23), a few young Belgians made an impression in the Tour of Catalonia. Cian Uijtdebroeks (20) confirmed all high expectations with a 9th place, Ilan Van Wilder (22) was the master servant of the world champion. José De Cauwer praises the duo, but questions the various interpretations of their first professional years.
His first stage race in the WorldTour was a bull’s eye: Cian Uijtdebroeks proved with a 9th place in the final standings that his future looks very bright.
Although his Bora-Hansgrohe team clearly does not want to skip any steps. “They are very careful, sometimes a little too careful about giving chances,” says the winner of the Tour of the Future in our podcast De Tribune.
“There is no pressure at all and that’s nice. Can it sometimes go faster for me? I would say: if it goes faster, there is no reason to stop it, but we certainly don’t have to push it.”
Cian Uijtdebroeks stood his ground among the tenors in Catalonia.
José De Cauwer: “If Ilan Van Wilder were my son…”
“What I find important”, José De Cauwer adds, “is that Cian has a free role and does not have to be slaves.”
Our analyst immediately jumps to Soudal-Quick Step and Ilan Van Wilder’s range of duties. Only 22-year-old Van Wilder, 3rd in the Tour of the Future in 2019, is ahead of Remco Evenepoel in many races.
“If Ilan were my son, I would have a little trouble seeing him subservient like that. That’s great for a team leader, because you build a great team. But what are you doing for yourself?”
“It is a pity for Ilan that he has to do that. I think he is being pushed into a servant role too quickly, while we – like himself – do not yet know enough where he can end up.”
“As a young person you have to test things up to a certain age. If you have done that, then you are not playing a servant, but then you are. That is a big difference.”
“Serving with devotion is only a given when you have explored everything and when you know your place.”
“So I wonder if he is satisfied and if this will be the end point? If so, he may be a few million short of money.”
As a young person you have to test things up to a certain age. If you have done that, then you are not playing a servant, but you are. That’s a big difference.
Ilan Van Wilder was the leader in the Tour of the Algarve: he finished 3rd.
“You have to seize your opportunities as soon as they arise”
Where does the journey of discovery as a young person actually start? Should you mainly be given opportunities or should you initially enforce them yourself?
Cian Uijtdebroeks explains how he approached it in Catalonia: “You have to make sure that you are part of the first mountain stage. If you release there, then you have to subdue afterwards.”
“You have to grab your opportunities as soon as possible when they arise. And if you start the final stage in 9th place, you can’t lose that place.”
I think Ilan likes this job very much. And that he is very happy that he came to Soudal-Quick Step. He flourishes in this team.
“The problem with Ilan Van Wilder is that he missed his start,” José De Cauwer refers to the difficult start of his professional career (2020-2021) at Sunweb and DSM.
“He was very happy to be caught by Patrick Lefevere, but there must come a time when he can go as leader when he is ready.”
“But not 14 days after you have emptied yourself in a round. I don’t charge the team, hey. I just think: if I were related to Ilan, I would do it like this.”
“I know him quite well,” the young Bora-Hansgrohe talent explains. “He is very sympathetic and calm.”
“I think he likes this job very much. And that he is very happy that he came to Soudal-Quick Step. He is flourishing in this team.”