Naples seafront, May 2009 and in a few days QuickStep’s Kevin Seeldraeyers will be crowned best young rider in the Giro d’Italia.
Dave Chapman and I chat to the slim, slight young man from the magnificently named Flemish town of Boom, his English is perfect and he’s on the way up.
With 13th on GC in the Giro as well as best young rider, add that result to 11th and best young rider in the Tour of California, 7th and best young rider in Paris Nice and 4th in the Tour of Austria and we could be forgiven for thinking that the young Belgian was headed for the very top.
But as the film title suggests, 2009 was; ‘As Good as it Gets.’
Seeldraeyers followed a classic route to the pro ranks; a stage win and second on GC in the tough Ronde de l’Isard in 2005 and then a sparkling 2006 season.
There was the overall in the Tour de Liege, second on GC in the Tour of the Pyrenees and a stage win in the race where a good performance virtually guarantees you a pro ride – the Valle d’Aosta stage race in Italy.
He signed with QuickStep for 2007, a dream for any young Belgian and was quick to produce promising results; top 20 on GC in the Tours of Austria and Catalonia added to 5th on GC in the Tour of Georgia all boded well.
In 2008 he rode his first Giro and was in the top 20 on GC in the Tours of California and Germany.
Then came the year which promised so much, prior to a lack lustre 2010; albeit there was a ride in the world’s biggest bike race – le Tour.
The following season,