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Giro d'Italia

Farmer, electromechanic, Giro d’Italia climbing ace: The multi-skilled Mauri Vansevenant

Belgian pocket-rocket trades time conquering climbs for Quick-Step with life working the family farm.

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Mauri Vansevenant is a climber on a sprinter’s team, a racer with a fondness for farming, and Belgium’s best hope of flying high in the mountains.

Trading pro life at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl with work on the family farm practicing his degree in electromechanics, Vansevenant is the renaissance man of the Giro d’Italia peloton.

“Working on the farm at home gives me a nice balance with the training and the stress,” Vansevenant told VeloNews earlier in this Giro. “It helps to clear the head.

“My family are only hobby farmers. I just do small work, preparing the mechanics, it’s nice and calming.”

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Vansevenant couldn’t be much further from the tranquil Flandrien fields owned by his father Wim as he pedals around Italy this month.

The 22-year-old blasted into the break on the Giro’s stage up to Etna to finish a fantastic fifth, dived into the top-6 on GC for five days, and wore the best young riders jersey on “loan” from Juanpe López in a taste of life at the top of a grand tour.

And if you recognize the name Vansevenant, it’s because Mauri’s father Wim raced six grand tours in his 13-year pro career before he turned to tilling beets and tending sheep on his family-run smallholding.

“Unfortunately now with the racing I have less time at home, so I work on the farm less and less,” Mauri said. “But when I’m home I try to help my father with work on the land. It’s a nice contrast to the riding.”

‘He could be one of the best climbers we’ve had from Belgium in recent years’

Vansevenant may be spending less time at home on the farm nowadays, but he’s still making hay on his bike.

Just months after packing away his pens having finished a degree in electromechanics, Vansevenant lit up his rookie ride at the 2020 Flèche Wallonne with his chaotic and crash-riddled attack.

Victory at the GP Industria & Ariginanato and second place behind Michael Storer on stage 10 of the Vuelta a España last year maintained the momentum ahead of a podium finish at Faun-Ardèche this winter.

Vansevenant kept the wheels rolling hot into the Giro with his exploits on Etna and week in the GC spotlight.

“The first week [of the Giro] was really good for me. I could feel the shape is good, it’s gone better than expected so far. But I know the GC guys will keep getting better and better,” he said last week.

Vansevenant blew up on the beast that was Blockhaus and tumbled out of GC contention.

“I’ve already had a hard season with a lot of races so it wasn’t the perfect preparation to start with,” he said.

The back-half of the Giro will see 60kg Vansevenant hunting breakaways and getting bottles while the more broad-shouldered on the Quick-Step bus shepherd Mark Cavendish into the sprints.

“I really enjoy it in the team and I know my role as a domestique and I want to keep trying like this,” he said. “Normally on a sprint stage I can’t do a lot because I can’t make a good lead-out so I don’t do so much, but when I can, I help.”

The high Alps of the third week will see Vansevenant back on favored ground. Quick-Step will have half a hope its young climber can top-up the win-count started by Cavendish in Budapest.

“He surprises us all at every race,” team director Tom Steels told VeloNews. “He’s intelligent. With those types of young riders, especially the climbers, you take time with them. But he could be one of the best climbers we’ve had from Belgium in recent years.”

After the Giro, the farm no doubt beckons in a rapid decompression from Vansevenant’s second grand tour.

“It’s a way to clear my mind and relax, when I’m at home with family,” he said. “Racing is so full gas. But when I come home, I can really enjoy not having to think about too much, it helps me rest.”

Vansevenant’s father three times finished as “Lanterne Rouge” at the Tour de France. That’s one family habit Mauri won’t want to keep alive as he heads toward Verona next weekend.