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Archive for the category “Interviews”

Andrea Zordan: Looking forward to 2015

His first pro season was not entirely as Andrea Zordan had hoped. Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela’s rider raced in many important Classics, like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke, the Tour of Flanders or Amstel Gold, but faced many difficult times, because of a mononucleosis. The good thing after the disease was found was that Andrea recovered and worked hard to finish the season on a high.

Now, before the start of the new season, the 22-year-old rider trains a lot in order to find the best form in 2015, when he wants to show everyone what he’s capable of. Given that he does not lack confidence and he has on his side the experience of the past season, Andrea Zordan needs just a little luck to be one of the surprises of next year.

– Andrea, how was 2014?

My first season as a pro was a long and hard one, with many difficult moments, but also with nice memories, one of which was traveling around the world with the team. It certainly was a significant leap for me, considering that I went from 130-150 km long races races to 200 km long races. The pace is an intense one, especially at the end of the races, but thanks to the different races which I did, I managed to cope with these things pretty well.

– When was your best moment?

Without any doubt, that was in the month of August. After I got over my physical problems, I did some training in France and in the end I could fight against fast riders like Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd and others. Then in Italy I made myself noticed in the Trittico Lombardo, with more than 200 kilometers in the breakaway during Coppa Agostini.

– And the worst?

The worst moment was when I realized, in April, that I did not have an optimal physical condition. After several tests, in July I discovered that I had mononucleosis. That was why in many of the races I did I had a strange feeling and I felt tired. This led to many races I didn’t finish.

– You love the cobbled Classics, and this year you got to race there. How was it?

It was an important experience that helped me grow a lot. I now understand that these are races in which you have to be at 110%, given that all the great champions want to do very good. In addition to that, I saw how the bikes are prepared for these kind of races, nothing is left to chance, never.

– What did you improve during 2014?

This year, I feel like I made some progress in terms of strength, because I rode in 200 km long races and so I got used to a constant effort of five, five hours and a half.

– Are you satisfied or disappointed with your season?

If I’d have to give myself a grade from 1 to 10, I would definitely give a 5,5, because I was very tired, but thanks to the hard work, I managed to do some really good races in the last two months of the season.

– What plans do you have for next year?

I’ve thought a lot about 2015 and I have already begun preparing for it, because I’m focused on doing very well. My goals are connected to the races in which the team will be invited. In addition to the Northern Classics, I want to race more in Italy and France, where I’ve noticed there many races held that suit me. Then I would be very happy if I could start in a race that I watched very often on television, Milano-San-Remo. But by biggest goal is to be at the start of the Giro d’Italia.

Karel Hnik: Ready to make the big step in 2015

At the beginning of the year, Karel Hnik had one clear goal: to be better then he was in the previous season. Just 22-year-old at that time, the talented Czech rider showed he means serious business right from his first race, the Istrian Spring Trophy, where he finished second. Just two weeks later, he came third in the Volta ao Alentejo, a race in which many U23 cyclists made a name for themselves over the years.

Winning stage three of the Trofeu Joaquim Agostinho was just a sign of the big things that were to come in August, when Karel Hnik finished first in the GC of the Tour Alsace, as well as taking the stage to Markstein. Those results landed him a role as a stagiaire with MTN-Qhubeka, and later, a pro contract with CULT Energy, which already applied for a Pro Continental license.

What are Karel’s thoughts after his last season in the U23 ranks? What goals does he have for the future? Find out these and more from the following interview.

– Karel, 2014 is over. How was this year?

It was my second full road season, without combining it with the cyclo-cross races and I must say I haven’t had a better season until this point. Racing with Etixx-Ihned and then with MTN-Qhubeka gave me the opportunity to have a really great program from the beginning until the end of the season. I’ve raced almost 10 000 kilometers and for sure this was a move forward. My biggest result was winning a stage and the GC of the Tour Alsace. In that period – late July and August – I felt excellent and I had a great form. But my biggest satisfactions came from being able do be consistent and get results throughout the year.

– What did you improve during the past two years with Etixx-Ihned?

The team helped me a lot to step up. I came here as a cyclo-cross rider, who used to do just a couple of road races per year, but now I dare to say that I am full road rider. Definitely, I still need to get a lot of experience, but the last two seasons have given me so much. Without Etixx-Ihned, I would not be where I am now.

– Besides Etixx, how important was cyclo-cross for your development?

It really helped me a lot. I got technique and a good control of the bike, and these are things I’ll never forget. My opinion is that all the young riders should begin with cyclo-cross or MTB.

– You rode as a stagiaire for MTN-Qhubeka and at some point there were talks of a contract there, but nothing happened. Why was that?

Team manager Douglas Ryder told to me that he was very satisfied with my results, but after signing big names, like Edvald Boasson Hagen, they could not pick any other riders from Europe, as the sponsors were interested in having cyclists from Africa.

– During your spell with MTN, you’ve raced against many World Tour riders. How was it?

In was very important, because in those two months as a stagiaire I had the opportunity to live new experiences in quality races, and now I know what I can expect from next year.

– How did you end up signing with CULT Energy?

I got a call from the team’s general manager, who said that the team was following me for some time now and was very interested in me. I talked with my manager, Brian Smith, and he told me that it’s a very good step for me to go to this team. So, after a couple of days, the contract was already signed.

– What goals do you have for your first pro season?

My main focus will be on gaining more experience in the professional peloton. I also look forward to doing some big and hard races, where I want to show what I’m capable of. Long-term, I want to do good in the Grand Tours and the Classics. If I will score a win in a big race, it will be great.

Jasper Stuyven: 2014 – first season in the World Tour

Jasper Stuyven

For some time now, people are talking about Jasper Stuyven as one of the future stars of the cobbled Classics, in which he already shined as a Junior and U23 rider. Altough is always difficult to say what a youn cyclist will and can do over the years, one thing is certain: the Belgian rider of Trek Factory Racing has the talent and potential to make a name for himself in the future seasons, and not only in one-day races, but also in stage races, where his strong sprint can help him notch wins.

Despite not taking a victory in 2014, the 22-year-old Belgian rider showed what he is capable of from his first season in the pro peloton, getting to race all the important cobbled Classics, and also making his debut in a Grand Tour. Making a quick summary of his year, Jasper Stuyven has had 66 race days and 12 top-10 placings, eight of which came in the World Tour. What did he had to say on his very good year? Find out from the following interview.

– Jasper, the fans have voted you the best neo-pro of 2014 on the Cafe Roubaix poll. How was this season?

I am pretty happy with my season. I wasn’t scheduled to do all the big Classics, but because the team was pretty happy about my form and the way I knew the roads, I was able to do them all. Then, at the end of the season, I got the chance to start in my first Grand Tour and delivered some impressive results. So although I did not win, I gained experience and I had a peak form in the World Tour races, where is very difficult to win.

– You are a Junior Paris-Roubaix winner and this year you’ve raced in the elite version and finished 55th. How was that day?

For me, Paris-Roubaix was a beautiful race, during which I raced on Fabian’s (ed. Cancellara) side and was able to work really hard for him. Of course, you can always ask yourself “what if I didn’t have to pull?”, but that is part of the job. My result says nothing. Also, Paris-Roubaix was my best day in the Classics this year! I just loved riding there, getting on the cobbles, and I also loved that I could still ride at the front for Fabian, at the same time controlling the gap of the breakaway.

– What meant the whole Vuelta experience for you?

I was nervous to start in my first Grand Tour and because we went there without a big GC leader, I think it made it possible for me to take it “easy”, without too much pressure from the team. The most difficult thing was to get through the days I didn’t feel good, mentally and physically, but so I learned that I am recovering pretty well. Of course, there were some good and bad days, but if someone would have told me before the start that I’ll finish eight times in the top 10, as a neo-pro, I would have signed for this immediately!

– Your were known to have a good sprint from the U23 ranks, but your sprinting skills were really impressive in the Vuelta. Did you train to improve this during the season?

Actually, I did not train on my sprinting skills at all in the past season, although maybe I should have done it after the Classics. I just trained really hard and well preparing for the Vuelta and without having a “real” sprinter of Trek Factory Racing there, I was able to go for my own results and I didn’t have to do some lead-out work.

– What’s your schedule for 2015?

Normally, I will start my season in the Tour of Qatar again. Then, in the first part of the season, I will be all in for the Classics.

– Do you hope to start the Tour de France?

I am not yet really interested in riding the Tour at this moment. For sure, I want to ride it someday, but no kind of pressure on me in this regard.

– And what personal goals will you have for 2015?

I just want to perform really well in the Spring Classics and give my best also in all the other races that I will do. Of course, it would be nice if I could say at the end of 2015 that I’ve won an important race.

Michael Valgren: A year in the pro peloton

In his first season with Tinkoff-Saxo, Michael Valgren won the national title and the Tour of Denmark, but his results can hardly be called surprising, as the young Danish rider came from the U23 ranks recommended by some very impressive wins. More than a surprise, Michael’s excellent run in 2014 was a confirmation of his huge talent, thanks to which he has been tipped to put his mark on the Classics in the following decade.

After a great season, in which he got to make his Grand Tour debut and raced at the World Championships in Ponferrada, Michael Valgren sat down to talk for Cafe Roubaix about his experience as a neo-pro and his plans for 2015, a season in which he can land a big win.

– Michael, you had 80 race days in 2014. How are you feeling after this long season?

Yeah, 80 race days sounds a lot, but I felt really good at the end of the season, so I am really happy that the team let me race for so long. Especially after the Vuelta I felt good and it was just so awesome to be like this after my first Grand Tour.

– Your first important result came in May, when you finished third in the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque. Did you expect to have such a good run?

Before the race I had no expectations, but I knew my condition was good, so I just tried not to lose time in the first couples of stages. Then, when I saw an opportunity, I took it and my team mates supported me 100%. It was very cool to have the whole team behind me, as I am a neo-pro.

– Less than two months later, you became National Champion reaching the finish line all alone. What meant for you to win the title in your first pro season?

It was really great to win the National Championships. It gave me confidence in myself for the future and it is so cool to ride in the national kit every race until next year. Also, it gives you good media time for sure, which is always good I think.

– Your biggest victory was the GC in the Tour of Denmark. How was it?

Winning on home soil is one of the biggest results out there for a Dane and in front of such a big crowd like the one in Copenhagen. It was a really emotional feeling, because my parents were following the whole Tour of Denmark and gave me so much support. They are the best!

– Was that result decisive in your selection for the Vuelta?

I honestly don’t know. I think I was in the picture, but winning for sure helped.

– Speaking of the Vuelta, you made your Grand Tour debut there. How did you enjoyed that whole experience?

The Vuelta was such a big experience, especially because Alberto (ed. Contador) won. And helping him win was just so amazing, to see that the team rode so well and tactically flawless during the race was incredible. It truly was a great experience. For sure, I will do again a Grand Tour.

– Let’s go now to the World Championships, where you attacked in the finale.

Well, at the Worlds I had good legs for sure, but I should have waited more, because in the Worlds you have to wait. On the other hand, I was a bit insecure that I was good enough for the final, so I took an opportunity and it worked out well… almost. But being there in the break was just so cool! Even though I was suffering, I’ve enjoyed it so much! After the race, when I started thinking of what happened, I realised I could have done better. But I am super happy with my performance!

– What do you feel you improved in 2014?

My endurance, for sure. Now I can do races which are over 200 km, and I showed that in the Worlds. This is good for my future: I want to win the Worlds, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and Amstel Gold Race, and I have to be able to do long distance races! There were some periods when I could have been better, but you always have downs I think. But I had the best help from the team coaches to get me back in the right direction.

– How was the whole Kilimanjaro adventure?

It was maybe one of my biggest experiences! It had everything: fear, happiness, fatigue, success! I am glad that I’ve tried it, because it is something I would never do on my own and I will never do it again actually. Been there, done that!

– What plans do you have for next season? Are you tempted by some cobbled Classics?

I want to do my best! I have no races that I have been giving a thought, because I don’t know my program yet. But I am very fascinated by the cobbles and I would love to do those race to help Peter Sagan win there! Of course, every rider hopes for the Tour de France, but I want to take things easy. This doesn’t mean that if they give me a spot I won’t take it.

John Degenkolb: “The podium in Paris-Roubaix was the next big step of my career”

Tour of Spain 2014 - stage - 4

Gent-Wevelgem, four stages and the points jersey in the Vuelta, and a total of ten wins, this is the impressive palmares of John Degenkolb at the end of the 2014 season, his best to date. Also, the 25-year-old German made some significant improvements during the past months, which helped him finish two Grand Tours for the first time in his career and thus be one of the most consistent riders of the peloton, despite having a long season, with no less than 88 race days.

After the excellent season he had, John Degenkolb went on a holiday, but before that he made some time for an interview, in which he reflected on his results and talked about his goals for 2015, a year he hopes to be as best as this one.

– John, how would you rate your season?

I was planning to do a successful season and it worked out. It was a really nice season, during which I worked hard from the beginning until the end. I had a great Spring campaign, but I must admit that in the Tour de France I was disappointed with the crash and the fact I couldn’t win a stage. Then, the Vuelta was great, and the same goes for the one-day races after the Vuelta.

– Speaking of the Vuelta, you were more thrilled for your stage wins or for taking the green jersey?

The points jersey in a Grand Tour, especially your first one, is something emotional and very exciting. I’m very proud of winning it. Of course, I enjoyed the stage wins as well, but it was very important to take the green jersey, which was a big goal for me since before the start of the race.

– Back to the the Spring Classics: in terms of confidence and what you can do in the future, which result was more important, winning Gent-Wevelgem or finishing second in Paris-Roubaix?

The podium in Paris-Roubaix was really special, because it was for the first time in my career that I stood on the podium in a Monument. Gent-Wevelgem is an important race, but Paris-Roubaix is something different, with all that great history behind it and the special moments it had. It was the next big step of my career to be up there on the podium, I had a great feeling and it was very significant for me.

– Despite some health problems, you raced at the World Championships. How was the race?

Really, really hard. It was a tough race, also because of the problems I’ve had after the Vuelta, when my white blood cells were high and I had to take a lot of antibiotics in order to get rid of the infection in my body. That made me lose energy for the Worlds, and even tough I was 100% focused and motivated, it was very difficult. But, despite all these problems, I got a top 10 and showed that I’ve improved and can cope better in difficult races and still get a nice result.

– Do you now feel that in one-day races your rivals are refusing to work when there’s an attack, because they are aware of how strong you are in a sprint?

Yes, and this something I will have to handle in the following years, because if some riders will be with me in the first group not far from the finish, they will know it will be hard to beat me, so will try to drop me, or catch me in a trap and make things more difficult for me.

– Earlier, you said that you are much stronger after this season. What did you improve in the past months?

I’m stronger mentally and this helped me stay more calm in the important situations. This was my fourth year as a professional and in every season my “engine” is becoming bigger and bigger. I have more power, and this was the reason for which I chose to do the Tour de France and straight afterwards the Vuelta. This busy schedule I had will have a big influence on my body structure in the winter and for the next Classics season. We hope that this will help me to be in a better shape in the Classics.

– What goals will you have for next year?

My main goal is to repet the results I’ve had this year, and first of all to have another strong Classics season. Then, I will definitely like to do the Tour de France again. This is the biggest race in cycling and if you are successful there, then you get a lot of attention. It’s very important to be there and I don’t want to miss it, especially as one of my other goals for 2015 is to win a stage in the Tour de France.

Matej Mohoric: “I want to do a Grand Tour in 2015”

At just 19, Matej Mohoric was the youngest rider to race in the World Tour this season. The talented Slovenian was a member of the Cannondale Team, where he ended up after winning the Junior and U23 World Title in the previous two seasons. The beginning of 2014 found him at the start of the Tour Down Under, which was followed, a couple months later, by the Ardennes Classics that Matej loves so much and where he has the potential to shine in the future.

After racing mainly in North America in the summer and concluding his season in Italy, Matej Mohoric returned to Slovenia for a well-deserved holiday. There he was when I talked to him last week, in order to find out his thoughts on his first World Tour season and his expectations ahead of next year, when he’ll race for a US team, Garmin-Sharp, which will be sponsored by Cannondale.

– Matej, 2014 was your first season in the World Tour. How was it?

It was a great experience. I did not achieve many notable results, but I am still very satisfied with my neo-pro year. I learned lots of new things and hopefully I will be able to use this knowledge in the next years. It was a huge change compared to my previous years. You can really see it is a top level competition here, the difference in the quality is enormous.

– What were the hardest things to cope with?

In my opinion the difference between World Tour races and less quality races lies mostly in the speed and distance of the races. World Tour goes much faster and much longer than anything I have experienced before. It is somehow logical, since there are the best guys from every generation out there.

– You didn’t race much at World Tour level (ed. 13 days). Why was that?

In my opinion I raced quite a lot at World Tour level considering the fact that it was my neo pro year. I was by far the youngest out there, so it was good that I did not race too much in the best races. I did enjoy the presence at the Ardennes Classics, which will be quite important for me in the future. I did the Tour Down Under, which was my first time ever at the top level. At the end of the season I also raced in Canada. I think it was more than enough for a 19-year-old rider.

– What do you feel you’ve improved during this year?

Probably every aspect of bike racing, except climbing. I was not faster up the hill this year. Still I was a lot better in everything else when compared to previous years. I have many great memories. My best day on the bike this season was probably the third stage of the Tour of Austria, when I was in the breakaway. I felt really good.

– Next year you’ll be changing teams. How do you see this move?

I am excited to start a new year, a new experience. I am sure it will be another great year. They gave me a positive first impression already and I believe it is not wrong at all.

– What plans do you have for 2015? In what races would you like to go?

I do not yet know my race program, but I wish to try with a Grand Tour appearance for the first time in my career, probably Vuelta is the most realistic option. I would like to focus on shorter stage races. For sure I will be competing even more at World Tour level.

– And what goals will you have?

I do not want to set result goals yet. I will only be 20-years-old and I know that my body still needs some time to fully develop. But we will see, I have my expectations that are better to keep for myself, but for sure everything is possible.

Sven Erik Bystrøm: From Øster Hus-Ridley to Katusha, via Ponferrada

Sven Erik Bystrøm

In September, at the World Road Championships in Spain, Sven Erik Bystrøm surprised the big favourites attacking on the final climb of the U23 race and winning the rainbow jersey, only the second Norwegian to do so. Still, the 22-year-old cyclist didn’t came out of nowhere; in the past three seasons he spent riding for Øster Hus-Ridley, Sven has had some impressive results in one-day races, but also in stage races, and one World Tour team that noticed his big potential was Katusha, which signed him for the next two years.

Before going in a training camp with the Russian team, I caught up with Sven Erik Bystrøm and asked him a couple of questions about his first years as a rider and the expectations he has for 2015.

– Sven, how did you begin cycling?

I started first when I was 9-years-old at a local cycling club, and then when I was 16 I moved to Stavanger which is a two-hour drive from where I come from. Then I started to attend sport school and I was part of a bigger cycling community, with more riders of my age. I liked cycling since I started, I watched it a lot on the television, especially the Tour de Frace and the Giro d’Italia.

– After some good results in the junior races, you ended up with Sparebanken Vest. What’s the story of that transfer?

Once I’ve finished my junior time, I did my first U23 year with the local club in Stavanger, where I had some good results and won the Norwegian Cup overall. This lead to some offers from both Sparebanken Vest, as Øster Hus-Ridley was called, and Joker. I choose Sparebanken Vest, because it’s from the same town where I live and basically all the riders in the team are from my neighbourhood. We trained and raced a lot together, so this was a good thing for me.

– What was your most important win during the spell with Øster Hus-Ridley?

That would be the U23 Eschborn-Frankfurt City Loop, in 2012. Then I showed myself at the Norwegian Championships. Also with the national team in the Tour de l’Avenir I’ve got some top 10 finishes. The next season, although I didn’t get any wins, I felt that I was better than the year before, that I was improving in all aspects.

– Let’s go now to Ponferrada. What were your hopes before the U23 race?

I thought before the race that I could manage to get a medal, because my form was good and I liked the course. This year, in September, I felt that I was at my highest level and I knew I had a similar form to the one in May, so this is why I was confident I can get on the podium.

– What were your thoughts in the last kilometres?

When I attacked I went full gas, I gave everything I had and on the top of the climb I was really tired, so I decided not to pedal so much in order to save energy and stay as aerodinamic as I could on the descent. When I reached the last two kilometres I put everything I had, it was almost like a sprint for me, because I knew that if I had 10 seconds in the last 500 metres, the riders chasing will consider I am too far and start looking at each other.

– Do you feel the win changed your life in any way?

After I crossed the finish line I didn’t have time to realise what I’ve accomplished. Afterwards things settled in. People became more interested in me and I got more media requests. I don’t know if this world title will bring more pressure on the future, my focus is to develop myself every year.

– In U23 races you’ve had results in stage races, but also in one-day races. What kind of rider do you see yourself becoming?

I think one-day races with a hilly parcours really suit me, as I’ve showed this at the World Championships. I’m thinking of classics like Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège in the future, but I will also try to be good in stage races, especially in those without a time trial, because time trials are my weakness. If there are not time trials and not big mountains, I can get strong results in one-week stage races.

– What made you sign with Katusha?

Basically, it was very important that we will be two riders from the same town, me and Alex (ed. Kristoff). We knew each other from the past, we’ve trained together when we were at home at the same time. It’s better for the both of us to be in the same team. He’s the big star of the team and I hope to help him and the other riders. As for me, I just want to become better, to handle the long races and to have more racing days compared to this year.

– What races do you dream of winning?

Liège–Bastogne–Liège is one of them. I also want to win a stage in the Tour de France, which is a really big race in Norway. And I’d also like to win the Worlds as a pro. Is really motivating that the 2017 Worlds will take place in Bergen.

Toms Skujiņš: “2015 will be bigger, better and faster”

Toms Skujiņš

The recently concluded season was the best of Hincapie Sports Development since the inception of the team, the US Continental team scoring four wins in the UCI America Tour. Three of these victories were brought by Toms Skujiņš, the 23-year-old Latvian rider who had a strong season, in which, besides his results, he discovered the States, adapting himself to the US lifestyle and races.

If last year you got to know more about Toms Skujiņš thanks to this interview, I know invite you to find out what he thinks of his first year in the US and what goals he has for 2015.

– Toms, how’s the holiday?

I’m enjoying my holiday and trying to stay away from the internet world more. Of course, I have some other stuff I’m doing, just to keep me busy.

– Any good book you’ve read recently?

I’ve been meaning to start a book, but haven’t gotten around to it, because I’ve got some not that interesting books that I have to read, learn and replicate.

– Did you had time to reflect on your season?

Well I’ve already been looking back at the season after I left the States, because the Worlds for me was definitely just going to be a race to get the feel for, not really go for a result there. Of course I wanted to do good, but I wasn’t going to get a result that would change the team I was riding for in 2015.

– For the first time in your career, you’ve raced a full season in the US. What were the main differences compared to Europe?

I get this question asked a lot. I still think that the biggest difference is made by how the wide roads affect riding styles. Almost at any moment you can get to the front, so you don’t have to worry too much about being far back. Still, some racing is less predictable and even in the big races it’s pretty exciting. A lot of the races are spectator friendly with city circuits and big loops you do over and over again and I really like that, because it’s always more fun to ride when there’s people cheering you on.

– You’ve changed countries, continents, mentalities. Was it difficult to cope with this?

Always it’s a bit difficult to go to a new team in a different country and even in a different part of the world, but I could have never have asked for a better team to arrive in, because they’ve made the transition so much easier. I’ve always been with fun people around me and they’ve always kept things bright, so it’s definitely been a lot easier then I thought it would be.

– How would you describe the Hincapie Sportswear Development team?

It’s an amazing group of people. The riders are so welcoming and fun to be with, but it’s not just the riders and the staff that’s the most caring one I’ve encountered in a team. It’s also the people behind the scenes, the people you don’t see at races. We’ve got an amazing group of people working at the Hincapie offices in Greenville. They help us out a lot and every win we get is also part theirs.

– Your best race was the Tour de Beauce, where you won the GC and two stages. How was it?

The week in Quebec when we were riding Beauce was amazing. It was a massive win for the team and me. It’s just amazing how we managed to win almost everything. Two stages, overall, points and young rider jersey, but most satisfying was that we won the team GC as well. It’s pretty amazing the boys managed to do that even though they had to ride the front to keep everyone in check for so long. It just showed how strong we are as a team. Plus standing on the podium alone is no fun, it’s always so much more fun to have everyone up there.

– You’ve also raced Utah, Colorado and Alberta against many World Tour teams. What memories do you have from these races?

Well most of those races I was just suffering, surviving and helping my team as much as I could. The only day I got a result was on stage two in Utah, when I sprinted to a sweet 5th place. But from then it just all went downhill, because my body just hates altitude. I’m hoping it will have adapted next year and that second time’s a charm. At least in Alberta when we went back to almost sea level racing I was back on track. I could ride at the front hard and long. On the last stage, when on the last lap we hit the final climb full gas, it was just me, Serghei (ed. Tvetcov) and six guys from World Tour teams left, so that gave me a big confidence boost. I knew I couldn’t win if I waited and I just went for it 5 km out. It was a risky move, and I knew I had little chance if no one went with me, but it was better then having no chance at the GC at all.

– Do you have any regrets after this year?

Regrets? Don’t think so. There’s always room for improvement, but regrets… Nah.

– How did this US experience helped you become a better rider?

It’s always nice to learn something new in training, racing, nutrition and just taking care of yourself. I’ve learnt a few new tricks, so that’ll help me a lot in the coming years. Training in the US is a bit more scientific, so it’s a big change to the Russian system in which I grew up in. Now I’m trying to combine both and make a system of my own.

– With what thoughts will you start the 2015 season?

2015 will be bigger, better and faster. I love that Worlds is going to be in the states, that’ll give me an advantage being there already, hopefully seeing the track before. I’m also looking at collecting as many UCI points as I can for Latvia, so that we’ve got as many riders as we can get at the Olympics in 2016. It’s a year I was looking forward to even before the season had ended. I’m having a break now, but looking forward to training hard for the upcoming season already next week.

– Any particular goals in terms of results, but also improvements?

I’m looking forward to racing the Tour of California, because I didn’t get to do it this year and I think we’ve proved we belong there. Also the team is planning to do some races in Australia in order to prepare for the season in the States, but we’ll see if that happens, because we have to hope the Aussies are looking at some races we’ve done over in the States and give us an invitation. I’m really looking forward to my new team mates, because I’ve heard we have made some good signing over the winter. I’m super happy for Joey Rosskopf and his move to BMC, but we’ll miss him on the Hincapie squad.

Clément Chevrier: “IAM Cycling is a new start in my career”

Clement Chevrier 2014

This time last year, Clément Chevrier was shrugging off the disappointment of not turning pro with AG2R by getting ready to embark in a new adventure, that took him in the US, as the new rider of Bissell Development Team. There, he had some very strong results in stage races, proving he is one of the most talented U23 climbers. This didn’t go unnoticed, and Trek Factory Racing took him as a stagiaire for a couple of races, before IAM Cycling stepped in and signed the talented French rider for the next two years.

What did Clément Chevrier had to say about this move, his future plans, and his 2014 season? Find out more from the following interview.

– Clément, this year you’ve raced mainly in the US. How important were Axel Merckx and Bissell Development for you?

It was important to leave France, where I grew up, in order to learn and improve on my bike. It was more an experience of life than just a cycling program. For sure, I wanted to make improvements with the help of the race calendar, which is of high quality, even if it’s lighter. The main goal was to join a big team for 2015. Bissell was one important step of my career. Thanks to Axel and this program, I can speak English now – which is important in cycling and for my studies – and I also showed that I’m able to join and integrate in a foreign team. This is something rare for a French rider. In the US, I discovered new races, a new spirit, a different approach of cycling for everything and I also met a lot of nice people who are my friends now. I feel lucky to have lived this experience.

– What were your highs and lows during this season?

For the highs, I can say the Tour of California, which is such a great race! Also, my experience with Trek Factory Racing as a stagiaire and for sure my ride in the USA Pro Challenge. This race was a stepping stone in my career. I had a good time with the Bissell Development Team, my team mates and the staff in US. I have a lot of good memories. For the lows, I think of my Tour des Pays de Savoie in June with the French Team. It was a goal for me and I was really disappointed of my result. I can explain that because I had allergies with four days before the start and I was also without any races in my legs in the past five weeks. I trained a lot to have a good form, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

– Of all these results you’ve had, which is the one you are the most proud?

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge. To finish 12th overall and with the best young rider jersey was incredible, but maybe more important for me was to show that I’m able to fight against the best riders in the world and have good legs during a one-week race. Also, the result was important for my future, because I trained hard since the start of the season just for this race. In this race, my last with Bissell, I wanted to say thanks to Axel for his confidence, but also to the staff and riders.

– You’ve recently signed with IAM Cycling. What’s the story of this transfer?

I was interested in IAM Cycling since last year, as I followed this team since the beginning. But the problem with me was I’m not Swiss and their priority is to have Swiss neo-pros. Finally, after Colorado and during the Vuelta, IAM Cycling came to me to find out if I was still interested. The decision was made at the end of the Vuelta, but I learned that just before the Grand Prix de Wallonie, which I did with Trek.

– What means for you to make this step to the pro ranks?

It’s a new start, totally new and in my head this is the real start of my career. The dream I’ve had since I was 5-years-old came true. But I have to keep my focus in order to do other good things in the future. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.

– Did you get to talk to the team management about the expectations they have from you in the first season?

No, I don’t know the expectations of the team, I still have to talk with the management about this. I know that we want to build something together over the next years, and IAM can help me discover myself in the pro peloton.

– Which races would you like to do?

It’s difficult to say which races I aim for, but what I do know is that I want to discover myself on the World Tour, in one-week stage races, but also in the Ardennes Classics, that I love so much and where I can learn a lot, and why not, to see if I am able to ride a Grand Tour. I want this experience to be productive for the future. I have to talk with the team about my program and I have total confidence in the staff and Rik Verbrugghe, the new sport manager. Another goal will be to help the team and learn from our leaders: Sylvain Chavanel, Heinrich Haussler, Matthias Frank, Sebastien Reichenbach and Stefan Denifl.

Ilia Koshevoy: “I’d like to focus on stage races”

Ilia Koshevoy

One of the most talented young riders that will make their debut in the pro ranks next season is Ilia Koshevoy. Coming from Belarus, but riding in Italy for some time now, the 23-year-old scored six wins in 2014, including the prestigious Cronoscalata Gardone. One year before that, he had already won the Gran Premio della Liberazione, and that caught up Lampre-Merida’s attention, who gave him the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2015.

Recently, I talked to Ilia Koshevoy about this transfer – the most important step of his career so far – but also about the impressive results he had as an amateur and a stagiaire.

– Ilia, how did you start cycling?

My parents were cyclists, so I think this was my destiny. But I started cycling late, at the age of 16, because I did other things before. I spent the first years in my home town, mixing road and track races.

– And how did you get to race in Italy?

In 2009, I rode with the national team the Giro della Lunigiana and Giro di Basilicata. I had some good results and thanks to these I received some offers from Italian amateur teams.

– Since coming to Italy, you’ve improved a lot, but is there something in particular you would still like to work on?

I am going well on the climbs and also in the time trials, but my problem is the way I go on the descents. I think that’s the only thing I need to improve.

– In the past two years, you scored many important wins, like the Liberazione or the Cronoscalata Gardone. Which is the one you are the most proud of?

The Gran Premio della Liberazione is the most important victory. But the most important thing was that I had a strong 2014 season and I’m satisfied, because I was very consistent. I won six races in five different months and this says a lot.

– What’s the story of your transfer to Lampre-Merida?

Lampre contacted me last year, in October. It was difficult for them to take me on board for the 2014 season, so they offered me a pre-contract for 2015 and 2016 and I said yes.

– You’ve raced the Tour of Utah with Lampre and finished 13th. How was it?

I am satisfied with my result. It was my first stage race of the season with pro riders. I didn’t know what to expect, but my condition was better day after day, while other riders were having problems. This gave me a lot of confidence.

– What plans do you have for the future?

I don’t know my race calendar yet, I will talk about it with the team at the first training camp, in December. I’d like to focus on stage races and in 2015 I will find out what I can and what I can’t do.

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