Giro d'Italia
Victor Campenaerts used the Giro d'Italia's stage...

Campenaerts gets expensive first date in Giro TT

Victor Campenaerts takes advantage of some TV time during the Giro d'Italia to ask a girl on a date. And it works.

FAENZA, Italy (VN) — Victor Campenaerts’s first date has already cost him 100 Swiss francs, and he hasn’t even kissed the girl.

The Belgian national time trial champion made headlines Tuesday when he wrote a message across his chest asking for a date. The UCI slapped him with a fine for “damaging the image of cycling.”

Campenaerts doesn’t care. His plan worked like a charm.

“It worked out well,” Campenaerts said with a laugh. “I have my date.”

Campenaerts’s romantic gesture, and the subsequent by-the-book fine from the race jury went viral. His original message — Carlien daten? (which roughly translates to: will you go out with me?) — was picked up by Belgian media. The ensuing fine Wednesday quickly made the rounds on social media as well.

“It got a little bigger than I expected,” he said from the team hotel. “I only heard about [the fine] one hour ago. I am not going to make a big deal out of it — I accept the fine, and I am ready to get back to my job of helping Stevie.”

Of course, “Stevie” is Steven Kruijswijk, the Dutch captain at LottoNL-Jumbo. Campenaerts is racing this Giro to help Kruijswijk follow up on his breakout 2016 Giro. In fact, it was Campenaerts’s commitment to Kruijswijk that triggered the idea.

“The reason I did it was because we decided that I should sacrifice my chances in the time trial, so I could pull for Stevie in the hard stages in the mountains,” he said. “We need every rider, and that’s why I gave up my chances in the time trial, so I could be a workhorse in the mountains.”

Campenaerts was doing just that Wednesday, pulling at the front in the climb-heavy stage across Italy’s spine. “If I had gone deeper in the time trial, I wouldn’t have been so fresh today.”

Generally, governing bodies don’t like athletes using live TV broadcasts as a platform for unscripted messages. European soccer recently started to issue a yellow card to players who take off their uniforms to celebrate goals or to show a message on an undershirt.

Cyclists also got into that game, most famously Cadel Evans, who wore a “Free Tibet” T-shirt ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Games.

So what about that date? The woman in question is a Belgian who, according to Campenaerts, “isn’t that much into cycling.”

“I am still thinking about that … it will have to be something original after all this!” he said. “Maybe if Stevie makes the podium, I can bring her to Milan to celebrate.”