No one knows how long the journey will last, but Attila Valter at least had the opportunity to experience it. Throughout the 181 kilometers that made up stage 7 of the Giro d’Italia on Friday, the Hungarian did enjoy his moment of glory. With the pink jersey on his shoulders, and his teammates alongside him all day, the young man was able to feel how much the maglia rosa means on Italian soil. He will still wear it tomorrow at the start, and will defend it tooth and nail in the uphill finish of Guardia Sanframondi.
“A feeling that cannot be described”, Attila Valter
In the end, it was not a dream. When he woke up this Friday morning, Atilla Valter was still wearing the pink jersey. “For sure,” the Hungarian fell asleep with it on Thursday night, and he came to the start at Notaresco this morning with a completely new status. The young rider met some fellow countrymen, got many congratulations, and then set off for 181 kilometers of pure happiness. Besides that, the sun was shining, and with a trio getting away right from the start, the entire Groupama-FDJ cycling team was able to enjoy the day properly. “The breakaway went right away, in the first few hundred meters,” told Romain Seigle. “We let it go and then Antoine controlled all day with the sprinters’ teams”. Consistently leading the bunch, the Canadian didn’t have to push beyond reason on Friday, but he did enjoy every pedal stroke at the front of the pack. “It was cool, for sure,” he said. “For a rider like me, it is obviously a great thing to be able to defend a jersey on a Grand Tour. We were lucky today. It wasn’t a stage too hard to control. We were able to quietly enjoy this day in pink”. The gap of the three leading riders never exceeded five minutes and the peloton only got nervous with about fifteen kilometers to go.
“We were hoping for this kind of stage,” continued Philippe Mauduit. “It allows for a bit of recovery and it was not a dangerous stage technically speaking. The guys handled it perfectly”. Throughout the course, Attila Valter could taste the ardour for the pink jersey like he never imagined. “I wasn’t expecting that,” he confessed. “It’s a feeling that cannot be described. There were thousands of people on the side of the road shouting “maglia rosa, maglia rosa!” Every time, I needed to realize that it was me. It’s really a feeling I can’t explain. I have heard my name so many times. People still have to figure out that it’s Attila Valter and not Ottila (smiles), but these are mistakes that can be made but I’m working on it! The stage was not as nervous as it was two days ago and I consider myself lucky that I had such an easy day to enjoy this beautiful jersey”. The day’s breakaway was finally caught seventeen kilometers from the line and the tension clearly arose before the final where everyone wanted to be positioned. “Romain was supposed to support Attila at this point in the race,” explained Philippe Mauduit. “He has the ability to do this job well in the final, he has the grit, the technique and masters this role”.
“We are ready for the weekend”, Antoine Duchesne
“We just made sure to position Attila correctly in order not to be caught behind a split in this tricky final,” added Romain. “Everything went well! We arrived in the first positions and we did not lose time”. Usually not a big fan of the fight for position, Attila Valter may have had a click today with the pink jersey on his shoulders. “The team kept me in front all the time. The final was of course hectic but I felt like a different rider in this jersey”, he explained. “Normally, positioning is not my strength, and I think it changed today. I felt really respected in the peloton. I felt completely changed. I managed to stay quite in the front and out of trouble.” The Hungarian ended the day in 36th place, within the time of the winner Caleb Ewan. “Marc said yesterday: savour, enjoy. I can say we savoured and enjoyed it in the cars, and the guys probably did even more on the bike. It was a beautiful day,” added Philippe. Saturday, it will for sure be another story towards Guardia Sanframondi where a hill-top finish (3.5 km at 6%) awaits the riders.
“I think we won’t have help like we did today. It will be much more difficult to control, but we are all set,” said Antoine. “We didn’t waste too much energy on Friday, we’re ready for the weekend!”. “We really want to keep the jersey”, Philippe said. “We don’t know if we’ll succeed, but we’ll fight for it. It gives everyone extra motivation. Guys obviously want to retain it as long as possible”. “Tomorrow I will be able to start again with this beautiful jersey, which is already a dream,” concluded Attila Valter. “It’s hard to know how it will unfold. It can be tricky, and the weather might not be on our side. If I have good legs I think I can manage to stay with the favourites but I have only eleven seconds on Evenepoel and sixteen on Bernal. This is a gap that can be quickly closed. I have full confidence in the team, they looked after me incredibly well today. I will just try to enjoy tomorrow and do my best to stay in that beautiful pink jersey”.