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Matteo Trentin on classics: Jumbo-Visma moved forward but Quick-Step will step up

Italian star talks about his first win of the season, a ‘frustrating’ 2021, and a winter of cross-country skiing.

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Matteo Trentin’s (UAE Team Emirates) consistency finally paid off Tuesday with the Italian netting his first win of the season at Le Samyn, and the Italian admitted that an early season victory was vital for confidence during the most important part of his season.

Speaking exclusively to VeloNews as he traveled back to Monaco from Belgium, the 32-year-old disclosed that luck — or rather Fernando Gaviria’s bad luck — forced UAE Team Emirates to shuffle the pack and add him to the their roster for Le Samyn.

Gaviria is out for weeks after breaking a collarbone in “opening weekend,” and due to logistical issues and travel, Trentin was required to stay in Belgium rather than return home after Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

Trentin was hot off finishing seventh in Omloop and ninth in Kuurne, so he was glad he stuck around.

“I came into ‘opening weekend’ with good condition but the result on Saturday in Omloop wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping for more,” he told VeloNews. “In Kuurne I just raced the best that I could but luckily they put me in the race for Monday. I wasn’t originally down to do the race but Fernando Gaviria broke his collarbone. Then we had problems with whether who come in due to COVID related matters but they team decided to put me and Vergard Stake Laengen on the start list.”

Trentin struggled to land a victory in the last couple of years. He was second in the worlds in 2019 and the following two seasons saw his win rate drop, even though he remained a highly consistent performer in one-day races and grand tours.

His first win in 2021 didn’t arrive until late into the season but starting 2022 with an early triumph is huge for his confidence.

The victory in Le Samyn also takes the pressure off somewhat ahead of Paris-Nice and then a return to the classics.

“Mentally this win is quite important,” he told VeloNews.

“I knew that the condition was quite good and I knew that the form was there. The win just helps from a mental side of things. Last year was tough, it was frustrating to be in so many good positions but not have the wins. But that’s sport, and that’s what can happen. You just have to remain focussed. I don’t know what was missing, maybe a little of everything but the winter was good for me.”

During the winter Trentin took some vital time away from the bike and spent it with his young family. He was able to keep his fitness up with a regime of cross-country skiing, while he also turned back to his sprint during training sessions. That extra speed that was missing from some of his races in 2020 and 2021 seems to be back.

“The winter allowed me to reset and build up. I kept my schedule the same, but I had much better cross-country skiing in terms of the volume. And then I focused a lot more on my sprint when compared to the last couple of years,” he added.

The standard in the classics this year has already been set incredibly high.

Jumbo-Visma enlisted the best ensemble that Dutch outfit has ever had, and Wout van Aert is so far on another level. Trentin believes that although the Dutch team is the standard setters at present, more teams will come to the table when the classics resume later this month.

According to the veteran Italian the level has increased again this year, and there’s a deeper level of talent and competition on the road.

“It’s going to a tough campaign. We’ve already seen that the level has been super high and we’ve also seen that Jumbo-Visma have moved forward as a team. Quick-Step will step up but my confidence is on track,” he told VeloNews.

“Every year though there’s a little step up in terms of competition. We’ve taken another move forward, and every year since I’ve turned professional it’s been like that. The average level of the bunch improves, and it means that we take on the races a little harder every time. You know that you need to improve each winter if you want to stay at your top level.”