The Belgian – a two-time National Champion of the discipline – talked about how he prepares for a time trial.
“I am looking forward to the time trial here at Paris-Nice. It is a nice course, not too long, which is better for me. Not an easy parcours, but at the same time, not super hard. The perfect TT course for me would be a similar distance to this, which is 13km, and between 10 and 15km, and maybe a little bit flatter than this one, but it is ok. It will be a really fast course.
I am looking forward to time trials even more now because I get to wear my Belgian National Champion colours. I don’t have too many chances to wear it and this is my chance to make Belgium proud. It means a lot to me to be able to sport it in some of the biggest races on the calendar. I took it in front of my home crowd last June, with a lot of supporters around, all who came there to see me. It was also a nice podium with Remco by my side, as well as Campenaerts.
To prepare for a time trial I usually look at the roads using online maps, to see if there are any difficult corners, or things I need to look out for that I might miss at first sight. It is important for me to know the details of it. And then I try to ride it twice on the morning of the race, to get the feel for the course, before warming up on the Tacx rollers.
I am not quite as precise as some others when it comes to a TT and kits, and I try to stay as relaxed as possible and ride on feelings. I don’t want to be too nervous because then I am not at my best. In my eyes you lose energy by not being calm, so I try to stay in the zone and save as much energy as I can. It is too difficult to have the perfect TT, so I just try to do my best.
Specialist riders of the discipline in my eyes are riders like Evenepoel and Ganna, who can perform on the longer courses, but I am not a specialist – I am a stronger rider who can perform well in a time trial, and to be frank, I never saw myself up with them. I like to ride them and I like to suffer, but I am not in the same league as them.
When the pain appears, and it inevitably does, I can struggle to keep the focus and I start to think about stupid things – sometimes I even sing to myself to try and forget the pain. But with somebody like Tom (Steels) on the radio, he can help me focus on the watts that I push and help me to try and go as fast as possible.”
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