Throughout the Giro d’Italia, VeloNews will be talking to some of the unsung heroes in the peloton – those riders that battle on each day without the recognition the major GC favorites or sprint stars receive.
Tiramisu can make any tough day on the bike better for Pieter Serry.
A professional cyclist’s relationship with food can be a strange thing as riders are in constant pursuit of trying to trim off as many kilos as possible. Serry is a lightweight climber, but he hasn’t let that get in the way of his love of food – especially a good tiramisu.
“It is the best thing, and it makes my day good,” Serry told VeloNews. “If it was a really hard day and you suffer all day on your bike and you have a nice tiramisu for desert then that can make it better.”
From Aalter in Belgium and the son of a farmer, Serry appreciates the opportunities that being a professional cyclist has given him. He still has to work hard – though it is perhaps an easier living than that of a farmer – but his job also affords him the chance to travel the world and taste cuisine from many countries.
“I’m a food lover,” Serry said. “It’s one of the things I really like. To be able to travel all over the world and to eat in so many nice places.
“My bike brings me everywhere. I’m the son of a farmer and my father is always at home. He also has a nice life but if I compare it to mine… I am able to go everywhere. If I wasn’t a pro cyclist then maybe there was a chance that I would also be like my father. Now, I’m really happy and thankful that my bike has brought me all over the world.”
Serry is riding his seventh Giro d’Italia for Deceuninck-Quick-Step this season, and his 12th grand tour in total. His personal best performance was 28th in the 2020 race, but the 32-year-old has supported a lot of other riders to success at the corsa rosa.
He was a key player in helping João Almeida to fourth at last year’s race, he supported Bob Jungels to win the young riders’ classification in 2016 and 2017, and was part of the team behind Rigoberto Urán’s second-place in 2014.
Serry’s only abandon at the Giro d’Italia came in 2015 after a bizarre incident where a pedestrian rode into the peloton on a fixed-gear bicycle during stage 2 and took large swathes of the bunch down. Thankfully, his altercation with a Team BikeExchange car on stage 6 didn’t send him home from this year’s race. Those incidents aside, Serry has very fond memories of the corsa rosa.
“For me, it is the hardest grand tour, and it is really nice here. It’s such a beautiful country, it’s so amazing. Everything goes pink, it’s so nice,” he told VeloNews.
“My best memory was not in the race, but I think it was in 2017 when we won the white jersey with Bob Jungels and also the ciclamino jersey [with Fernando Gaviria –ed.] and the team classification. I was on the podium and the whole square in front of the podium was applauding for me, it was really nice time.
“Also, in my first edition when we had the second place with Rigoberto Urán on the last day I was in the breakaway and I think we rode up the Monte Zoncolan and I was waiting for them, I was pulling in the last two or three kilometers of the steep climb with only Quintana and Rigoberto Urán in my wheel, they were fighting for pink and that was a really nice feeling.”
Riding for Remco
This year Serry will be using his talents as a domestique to guide his young compatriot Remco Evenepoel to a top general classification position. Serry always gets a few nerves ahead of a grand tour and this year was no different, especially with Belgium and the world watching how his teammate will do in the overall classification.
“Every grand tour I do I have more or less the same feeling, but now a little bit more because I have the feeling that the whole world is watching us. We have a lot of pressure,” he told VeloNews. “It is a good feeling. I always have it before some important races, but it’s normal and it helps you to produce some adrenaline. If you don’t have this anymore, then it’s not a good sign, I think. It’s part of the job.”
“It’s really an honor to be a part of this team and it’s really nice to try and fight for the pink,” said Serry.
The racing has already been tough in the first week with rain-soaked mountain days and a gravel ride to a summit finish at Campo Felice, but there is plenty more to come over the next two weeks of action. Serry is not put off by the challenge, indeed he relishes the chance to really stick it to the other riders in the peloton.
“There are a lot of farmer’s sons in the peloton, and I think they are used to working hard,” he said. “I love a hard race, then I can make the peloton suffer like in Liège, for example. I like to kill everybody.”
Asked if that was his intention at the Giro d’Italia, Serry laughed and said “yes”. So, be warned.