Fastest man ever on a 'Grand Tour'

Verbrugghe rolled at 58.874 km / h in the prologue of the 2001 Giro. In that season he won the 15th stage of the Tour with a finish in Lavaur, the same as that of this Friday.


On Rik Verbrugghe's Twitter profile you can read: 'Fastest man ever in a Grand Tour', 'the fastest man ever on a Grand Tour'. And, indeed, this is the case since May 19, 2001, when he won the prologue to the Giro d'Italia, at an average of 58.874 km / h. That day all the circumstances for the record came together, in addition to the Belgian's skills as a wheeler: the route, Montesilvano-Pescara, was very short, over 7.6 km, and completely flat and straight; the sky was cloudy, it was cool and, above all, the tail wind hit the coast of Abruzzo. Verbrugghe took the start long before his main rivals, so he had a complicity from Aeolus that the rest did not have.

That victory and his four days in the pink jersey decorate the best season for the then Lotto-Adecco rider. Before the Giro he had won the International Criterium, with two partial wins, and the classic Flecha Walloon. And two months later, in the Tour de France, he managed to conquer the 15th stage, between Pau and Lavaur, the same goal as this Friday. Verbrugghe went on a large getaway, as he had done on repeated days, but this time he managed to finish it off successfully. He went ahead of the group with Marco Pinotti, whom he beat on the sprint. During the outcome, his glasses fell off several times, but he was able to reposition them while controlling and holding off his Italian rival.

Verbrugghe was a professional between 1996 and 2008, years in which he managed to win another two stages in the Giro (2002 and 2006), although he never achieved the successes of that 2001 again. Once he retired, he took on the functions of sports director. Currently, at 46, he is the national coach of Belgium.

Apart from his sporting life, Verbrugghe has a business, the Veloloft bicycle shop, together with his brother-in-law Greg van Avermaet, who currently runs the Tour. Rik is married to his sister Claudia. The couple suffered last spring the contagion of coronavirus, which affected the former cyclist with greater virulence: “It was very hard, I got to panic, but I survived” .

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