The 22-year-old Belgian is back in action after a solid top 10 overall at the Vuelta a Andalucia last week.
“I’m definitely happy with how Ruta del Sol went. I think it’s always a bit unsure on how the first race will go, how your form is after the winter. I’m happy, the basis was there, only I came a little bit too short in the final to really go for the victory. But that will only improve in the next few weeks, as long as I don’t have any bad luck.”
“My style on the bike is something that I get some comments on. I have this style already for some time now, it’s typical, I work on it, but I also take a lot of power out of it and I don’t feel any negative effects. I always have the feeling that I am steady on the bike, but then when I see the images afterwards it’s totally different. Then it’s worse than I thought”, Mauri smiles as he talks about what makes him so recognizable on the bike.
“Normally these two races this weekend should suit me, I always like to race in France. I raced a lot in this country in the Under 23 category, the roads suit me and the way of racing too, I always look forward to coming back here. Two hard races, where a lot can happen and where we face a deep field. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can do something nice. The first goal will be to help Julian. He’s our leader here, on such a parcours. But we also have Andrea and myself, so we can play on different fronts.”
Apart from cycling, Mauri likes to spend time on the farm. “But, of course, being a pro cyclist means it’s not easy to find time for it. For me it’s a way to clear my mind and relax, when I’m at home. Between the sheep, alone, and seeing on the farm how everything goes. I try to help sometimes, but with the races and training it’s difficult to find time for it. In cycling everything goes fast, it’s hectic, so when I come home, I can really enjoy the silence and just don’t have to think about anything else.”
“Now on the farm it’s quite calm as it’s still winter. In two weeks it will already become busier. I try to look after the sheep, see if they still have food and anything else they need. Then I go out to train, and after that I do some other chores, as on a farm there’s always something to do. It never gets boring.”
On the farm Mauri lives in a building next to the main house of his parents, where he simulates altitude. “A cyclist is always looking for extra ways to become better. It’s a process where you build on. Every year you try to take a step. My dad, an ex-pro rider himself, of course helps me a lot as well. He’s really proud, he loves to watch me racing. He doesn’t miss a lot of races, it’s a hobby for him to follow me.”
“Before, when I went to the races with my dad, he gave me tips and tricks, showing the parcours and helping me. Now this is different, as I have some experience and inside the team a lot of people with knowledge and experience to guide me. We call every evening and every time we talk about cycling. Sometimes he sees things on television that I don’t know, it’s nice to have him by my side.”
Mauri hopes to improve again this year. “Last year I had a really nice season, better than expected. I’ll try to do the same or do even better. I want to become a bit stronger and show myself again, but of course it’s not easy. I’ll try my best, I don’t feel stressed or put myself under pressure, as that doesn’t help at all. I always give my all for the team.”
Photo credit: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images