The Luxembourg Champion is ready to kick off the season in earnest in a few days’ time, when he’ll join the Wolfpack in Belgium for the Opening Weekend.
If I am being honest, it doesn’t really feel like it was the start of the season here in Colombia. Last year was really special and this year even more so, with the two-week training camp that we had before the race, it has been a little like a holiday with friends and enjoying our time on the bike. We have been super lucky with the weather I think and even the race has been great.
We have podiumed on almost every stage, but the victory was missing, which is frustrating for us, as we are very used to winning. But the circumstances are different here – racing at altitude is something different and something that we don’t do every day. Nobody from the team is living at altitude, so being here is quite special circumstances for us and we have to be happy with our week. We tried every day and everyone that was here will really benefit from the work that we did here.
It is very different from a “traditional” start to a season in Europe. As well as the altitude, training allows us to see and experience new things. Just in the first few kilometers from the hotel you see people that live completely different lives to us in Europe, with a lot more farming and agriculture work than we see at home. Also, in Europe our training camps are very focused on results, whereas here it is much more about the actual work and the benefit we have when we return, which makes it more relaxed.
Being away for so long with one group is like being in a new relationship and that first holiday is always a test! We are away for a long time as one group, which means that we really get to know each other. We spend all day together, from dawn until dusk. Myself and Julian have known each other for a long time, but it is really important to have a bond with everyone on the team, which is why camps like these are great, especially for some of the news guys.
Back home and onto the cobbles
I won’t deny however that I am really happy to be home now and see my girlfriend and family. I remember over the last couple of years, after being away in South Africa and Colombia, that I got back with endless stories about the camps, but it is amazing how quickly you get back into the stresses of your everyday life at home. As well as seeing my girlfriend and parents, the thing I am looking forward to most is socialising with my friends. After three weeks with this group, even though it is 10 or 12 people, you reach the point that you don’t have any more stories to tell and you have seen all of the Netflix series, so you spend your days sleeping, watching TV, and eating. I personally really enjoy my social circle, so it will be really great to catch up with them.
My next races will be Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, in less than two weeks’ time, which will be special after what happened there last season, when our team won both and I got my first ever victory in a cobbled classic. Making my debut last year in a way that was even a surprise to myself was great and I am going back there even more motivated. I expect it will take me two or three days to get back in to the feel of Europe and acclimatised, but going back now will be a bit easier as we are coming down from altitude and the temperatures will be ok as I have been training all winter in Luxembourg and I am used to it. I can’t wait for the cobblestone races to start!
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