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Pink and red dreams in 2021

Our first participation in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana will remain in the annals of the team. During the third stage between Biella and Canale, Dutchman Taco van der Hoorn formed a breakaway with six others. On the last climb of the day he escaped on his own. The chase of the peloton was in full swing, but they came too late to real in Taco van der Hoorn. He triumphed solo ahead of the sprinting peloton, making his mark as breakaway champion.

“We didn’t have a victory yet that season. This win was a true relief. Somewhat similar to 2016, with the victory of Enrico Gasparotto in the Amstel Gold Race. But it was fantastic. Very good. I was present during the final preparation days before the Giro and the first two stages. When Taco triumphed the next day, I was on my way home with Maxime Segers. We made a stop in Switzerland to meet our sponsor Marc Van Hove from ATAR. We watched it happening together, following the livestream on my phone. When Taco crossed the line, we all screamed out loud in the meeting room. All employees of ATAR ran into the corridors to discover what was happening. They thought we became crazy! After the meeting, Maxime and I decided to return to Italy to celebrate the victory together with Valerio Piva and the team in the Giro. We had to drive through bad weather circumstances, but it was all worth it: what an incredible victory.”

The victory of Taco van der Hoorn in the Tour of Italy gave the team a boost. It was a preview on the strong emotions the team would experience later that season during the Tour of Spain, because it was in the same offensive way that Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe achieved a stage win, in the third stage to the Picon Blanco. Just like in the Giro, this win was achieved during the team’s first participation. Cherry on top of the cake, the Estonian rider became leader of the general and mountain’s classification, a position he would keep during the next two days until a crash deprived him from the red kit.

At the end of the tenth stage, Odd Christian Eiking took over the precious red jersey, making the red dream last a little longer. It would continue seven more days, a week during which the team was praised for its capability to defend this position, despite the lack of experience in Grand Tours. At the finish in Santiago de Compostela, Eiking concluded the Vuelta in eleventh position. Never before a rider from the team had done better.

“A stage win and nine days with the leader’s jersey on our shoulders during our first Vuelta, that was exceptional. I especially remember in which way we defended it. The glances have changed during the race, this new responsibility made us grow as a team.”

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