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Michael Valgren Andersen: “I don’t like to be second”

Many teams were interested in signing Michael Valgren Andersen, one of the biggest prospects in Danish cycling, after his excellent 2013, a year in which he won the U23 Liège–Bastogne–Liège (for the second year in a row), the Flèche du Sud and a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir – the first Dane in four years to do so – after a great breakaway.

Not surprising at all, Michael finally chose Tinkoff-Saxo, the only Danish team in the World Tour, where he wants to develop and become a Classics and stage races contender for the future. More on this in the following interview, the last one of 2013 on Cafe Roubaix.

– Michael, how was the first training camp with Tinkoff-Saxo? 

Well, I have been on two training camps with the team before, but that was as an invited rider. So this time was different. You start to feel like a member of the team, the other riders are more likely to talk to you and take care of you. It was a great experience to be with the team. I really enjoyed the training camp, there was good mood and I really look forward to be a part of this team.

– What made you come to Tinkoff-Saxo, despite having offers from other World Tour teams? 

For me it was very easy to choose Tinkoff-Saxo. Bjarne Riis was the factor, I had a really good talk to him and I felt that he has an idea with me for the future. And I am Danish, so Tinkoff-Saxo has always been my favorite team in the world. This is a dream come true.

– What will be your programme in 2014? Do you know a couple of the races you will do? 

I will start early, in the Tour Down Under, instead of Michael Rogers. So that will be very exciting for me to start in such a big race. I really hope I can deliver what they expect from me, because then I am going to do Liège–Bastogne–Liège and that would be so big for me, as I love that race.

– With what hopes and expectations will you start the season? 

I expect it to be very hard. I do not expect to go out and make a big result right away, but I really look forward to start and see what’s the level in the World Tour races. I hope to learn a lot in the first year, I’m going to see what the “old” ones on the team will do and learn from them.

– You won the U23 Liège–Bastogne–Liège two times, the Flèche du Sud and a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir. Which of these wins was the most important for you? 

It is a tough question. I really like all my wins, and especially the GC in Flèche du Sud, because I would like to be good in small stage races in the future. But Liège–Bastogne–Liège is the most important one. It was a big win for me, because it was for the second year in a row and that shows stability, and not luck. It’s a special feeling when you cross the finish line in Liège–Bastogne–Liège alone and think “the pro riders are also doing this race”, and you know it is a big race because of the name. That’s why it is the biggest win for me.

– Do you dream of winning Liège–Bastogne–Liège also as a pro in a couple of years and thus becoming the first rider to win in the Espoirs and Pro ranks? Or do you have other goals?

Of course I dream of winning Liège–Bastogne–Liège in the big league. It is a big and beautiful race, which deserves a lot of respect. You have to be strong and clever to win the race. But deeply inside I would really like to be a complet rider in the future who can climb, time trial and be good in stage races. That really fascinates me! I don’t know what’s my thing, Bjarne and Steven de Jongh (my trainer) will find out. But I really like the Grand Tours, so maybe one day, who knows?

– What are your strenghts as a rider?

I am stubborn and I have a big engine. I do not like to be second, so I fight to be the best. I have a really good flow with the cadence, and I am on top of the gear.

– At the other end, where do you still have to make some improvements? 

I have to show more stability in training and especially after training. Hereby I mean what I eat and how much sleep I get. I just have to be more professional.

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