The experienced Dane talked of his first race in the Quick-Step Floors jersey and the ambitions he has for this year.
Hello, everyone! How are things?
I'm writing from Australia, a place to which I'm not necessarily new. Although it was a while back, I competed here a few times in the 2000s as a track cyclist. It's been nice to return here for the Tour Down Under with my new team, Quick-Step Floors. This time, my experience definitely lived up to my expectations. I find the people here to be so open-minded and the whole atmosphere on and off the bike is very easy going.
I've taken part in many races around the world, but this event is somehow different. The people in Adelaide and Geelong really love their cycling and get very fired up when the race passes through their streets and the small country towns. I have to say that the Tour Down Under in particular had a real festival feeling to it. And of course, this motivates the riders that extra bit more, which I think shows in our results, that included a great win of Elia on stage 3 and Dries' top 5 in the overall standings.
I guess the only drawback to coming here at the start of the season is the weather, especially when the mercury rises above body temperature. When you have to race in above 40-degree heat, you really start to suffer like never before on the bike. But having participated in the race on numerous occasions, the team was always well-prepared and took the necessary precautions. We kept well-hydrated before, during and after the race, which sped up the recovery period after the long and hard days in the saddle.
While you can't deny that, despite the scorching summer weather, South Australia is a beautiful part of the world, I wasn't brought all the way out here just to enjoy the sights and scenery, but rather to fulfill a particular role, that is to assist Elia as part of the lead-out for his sprint. I've been performing this role for a number of years and I really enjoy bunch sprints. It really gets your adrenaline going, and when your sprinter can pull off the win, it really is a great feeling. After our first win here in Australia, I'm really looking forward to continuing to work with Elia, and also Fernando, in the forthcoming races.
Although I am new to the team this season, my transition was surprisingly very smooth. I already knew some of the riders and staff, which really helped me settle in quite easily. Initially I was a bit apprehensive, but the atmosphere at Quick – Step Floors is really welcoming. The team is like a family and I'm glad I made the transfer. I'm feeling really good about what's to come for me over the next years with this team.
While I've been over here, I've had some time to think about my goals for this year. As a support to Elia and Fernando, my aim is to help them win races. So I need to be prepared for the competition when I race with them, and be able to deliver them successfully to the finish line. At the end of the day, it's all about teamwork; a win for them is also a win for me, particularly in this team.
However, this year, I also have a special goal, namely to win a race for myself. I'm thinking that I might have a chance to accomplish this at one of the smaller races. The other event I am looking forward to is, of course, racing the Giro d'Italia and supporting my teammates in this fantastic adventure around Italy. So I have a lot of goals to work towards this year, but also a lot to hope for in the 2018 season.
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