The disbelief was palpable.
Upon crossing the line first on stage five of the Volta a Catalunya to claim his maiden professional win, Ethan Vernon attempted a wild celebration, throwing his right arm in the air, out and back again, and repeating the same manoeuvre two more times, his mouth agape to roar in delight.
There was absolutely zero choreography, but it was as beautiful as any meticulously prepared celebration for it revealed just how happy the 21-year-old was to score his first ever victory in just his 16th day as a professional.
Thirty minutes afterwards, the shock was still evident. "It hasn’t sunk in yet," the tall Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sprinter told Cycling Weekly. "Maybe tomorrow it will.
"I mean, I’ve dreamed of being a professional cyclist, only a few months ago that came true, so to then win with the team in one of my first races is unbelievable."
Vernon, who grew up idolising his current teammate Mark Cavendish , admitted that he celebrated like he did because "I couldn’t believe it, really", before adding that replying to the avalanche of WhatsApps on his phone will take up his entire journey to the team hotel. "We’ll celebrate tonight," he confirmed.
The final in Vilanova i la Geltrú was a complicated affair with a number of roundabouts and bends, but Vernon never looked like being beaten.He reflected: "I opened up the sprint with 200m to go and I knew it was a slight headwind so I had to go then, I got forced to […]