The French Champion has some important goals he wants to thick off this year.
“Brabantse Pijl is a really beautiful race, which I have ridden almost every year since turning pro. Last season I was 11th, and this year we have a solid team so I’m really motivated. In Julian and Remco we have two leaders, and going to the start with two cards to play means that we will need to ride offensively. It will be an important test as we gear up for Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.”
“As in every race you need to stick together as a team, and having many strong guys allows us to head with confidence into the race. Both Remco and Julian showed in the Basque Country that they are in good form. For Remco it’s a nice race, Julian has won here already, Dries and myself know the route well, so we have a lot of experience and strength. We will see what happens and we’ll give our best as always.”
Coming back after difficult moments
“I feel that I am gradually reaching the form that I want. Coppi e Bartali was the first stage race I did since my comeback. I was at Milano-Torino and Milano-Sanremo beforehand, but Coppi was really the first race again with multiple days in a row. I really wanted to show something and in the final stage with Josef we put on a beautiful show. For Josef, myself and the team it was a great day coming together at the finish, first and second. Josef won, while I regained some confidence and courage, after having had some difficult moments coming back. Basque Country was hard last week, it’s the hardest race in the world, but it was a good stage race to work towards reaching a good form. I missed one month of racing because of my crash at the training camp, so I was afraid I would miss out on a solid condition, but it’s going well.”
“Missing out on the training camp was difficult. My teammates put in a lot of work there for the new season, while I had to wait. In the end I think I was lucky, I missed one month of training, but it could have been worse. I have no pain anymore, everything is okay, so I’m just excited to do what I love the most, ride my bike and try to win races with Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.”
“I still have quite some goals and dreams for this season. I want to win races, also time trials, which are important to me. I will do the Tour de Romandie at the end of the month, which will put on the table two individual time trials; I won an ITT in Romandie last year and we will see how far I can get this time. There are still plenty of races to come, I can’t wait. And it’s a pleasure to ride in my National Champion jersey, now I’m already used to it but I still try to enjoy every moment I get to wear it. I hope to raise my hands in this beautiful jersey this season, that’s the biggest goal at the end of the day.”
Photo credit: ©Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images