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Kiel Reijnen on Team Trek-Segafredo: ‘We are racing for Luca at the Vuelta a España’

Trek-Segafredo rallies around general manager Luca Guercilena following diagnosis of lymphoma.

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SANTA POLA, Spain (VN) — News of illness of Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena hit especially hard for riders and staffers at the Vuelta a España.

The Italian general manager revealed Saturday he is taking a leave of absence while he is treated for lymphoma.

Staffers and riders at the Vuelta expressed support for Guercilena, and vowed to keep racing in his name.

“The best thing we can do is race well for him,” said Trek-Segafredo’s Kiel Reijnen on Saturday. “It’s hard to hear that, especially when you’re in the race bubble. It’s a big reality check. Life exists outside this crazy circus, and it’s always shocking when it’s someone young and healthy.”

Also read: Trek-Segafredo GM stepping away during illness

Guercilena, 48, revealed Saturday he is undergoing treatment for lymphoma and will be stepping away from the men’s and women’s WorldTour teams.

Guercilena joined Trek-Segafredo in 2011, and was instrumental in forming a women’s WorldTour team in 2019, and helped usher in co-sponsor, Italian coffee-maker Segafredo.

Also read: How Trek-Segafredo’s bet on young riders paid off 

Riders said they only heard the news a few days ago, and passed their support to Guercilena, who is a popular figure inside the WorldTour.

“The whole team is putting good energy toward him, and rooting for him, and wishing him well,” Reijnen told VeloNews at the start of Saturday’s stage. “We heard about it four days ago, so we didn’t have a lot of details.

“Everyone deals with this kind of thing differently, so it’s important that he is with his family and surrounded by people that support,” he said. “I want him to know that I am there for him, but I also want him to have the space that he needs to be able to deal with it the best he can.”

Guercilena started out working with the Mapei Performance Center and later worked with Quick-Step before moving over to help build out the Leopard-Trek team. He moved up to the general manager role when Johan Bruyneel let the team, and also worked as personal coach to Olympic time trial champion Fabian Cancellara.

Guercilena is also well-respected within the WorldTour as a consensus-builder and pushed for the creation of the women’s team in 2019.

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Reijnen was particularly moved when he heard the news.

“Over the years, I’ve seen how hard he works, and I have a lot of respect for the role he plays on this team. He is a loyal and passionate person, and he brings a lot to this team,” he said.

“Luca and I have had an awesome relationship the entire time I’ve been at Trek, and a lot of the reason I am here is because of him,” Reijnen said. “I have a huge amount of respect for who he is, and what he does. I think he’s got one of the hardest jobs on the team.”