Pyrenean solo gave Hirschi confidence: ‘Otherwise I would never have attacked so much’

The disappointment dripped off his face on Sunday evening in the Pyrenees. Ninety kilometres on his own in the attack and then third behind Tadej Pogacar and Pimoz Roglic, it’s not bad for a 22 year old Tour debutant. But Marc Hirschi wanted more.

He got the satisfaction four days later after a new solo, although a lot less impressive again. Hirschi (22) crowned a solo of 28 kilometres with his first victory as a pro rider.

“That I was allowed to start here was already a dream. I have almost no words for it. It couldn’t be better.”

Extra power after long solo

The Swiss team leader Marc Reef delivered another exciting afternoon with his attack. “It was carrot sweating again. There were some good riders in the chasing group, such as Julian Alaphilippe and Pierre Rolland. You are never sure before you reach the finish line”

With Sunday’s almost successful attack in mind Hirschi attacked on the toughest climb of the day, the Suc au May. “That gave me a lot of confidence, otherwise I would never have attacked so much on my own. It gave me extra strength, it was now or never. I also received a lot of messages, I had to think about that and I am very grateful for that”

Convinced of his victory, Hirschi was only in the streets of Sarran. “I doubted the whole time, until the last few hundred metres I drove full speed. Only in the last kilometre did I believe I could make it. It feels unbelievable, it’s hard to find words for it”

“Fire has started to burn

Teammate Joris Nieuwenhuis is closer to Hirschi than anyone else; he sleeps in the Swiss’ room. Nieuwenhuis saw that Hirschi did not allow himself to be driven mad after the long solo with disappointing results.

“He just remains very relaxed. There is a fire in him, I think, because he knew he was very close to it and he was really very upset. Tonight we will have a little party.”

Hirschi’s victory crowned Team Sunweb’s hard work after just under two weeks. Not only did Hirschi’s teammates do a lot of work in pursuit of the leading group in the twelfth stage, but the whole Tour the team frequently rides in front.

“Right from the start,” says Reef, “we’re in it from the first stage and that pays off here. We’ve been riding the whole Tour as a team. In the sprint stages for Cees (Bol, ed.) and here we show ourselves as a team again”, Reef refers among other things to the stopping work of Sรธren Kragh Andersen and Nicholas Roche.

Nieuwenhuis: “We knew we were very close, it only had to stand out the right side once. That is happening now and is very nice