Nicolai Brøchner: “The Tour of California is my first goal of the season”
No Danish rider ever won Paris-Roubaix so far, in more than a century since the inception of the race, and Nicolai Brøchner dreams to be the first cyclist from this country to get the prestigious cobbled stone shaped trophy. Just 20-years-old and one of the most promising young riders out there, Brøchner spent his first years as a rider in his home country, and in 2013 moved to the US, where he rode for Bissell Pro Cycling and got some top 10s in the Tour of Alberta.
For this year, Nico Brøchner signed with Bissell Development (formerly known as Bontrager), the team managed by Axel Merckx, and he is very motivated to prove himself in races like the Tour of California or the Tour of Denmark, against World Tour riders. If he reaches his goals throught 2014, then it’s very possible to find him in the roster of a World Tour team at the start of next season.
– Nico, how did you start cycling?
I started racing when I was 11 years old. I played soccer when I was a kid, but was looking for something a little more physical demanding and individual, so after watching the Tour de France one summer I started racing around the neighborhood with my brother and friends and soon thereafter joined the local cycling club and got my first racing license.
– Did you have an idol or a rider you really appreciated?
I have always enjoyed watching the sprints because of the action and unpredictability. Sprinting is also where my own strengths lie so naturally I’ve always looked up to the fast guys of the peloton. At the time I first started, the big names were Robbie McEwen and Tom Boonen, so these were some of the riders that I looked up to in particular.
– How were the first years in Denmark?
I have many great memories from my early years of racing in Denmark and thinking back on why I started racing often helps me stay motivated now. I remember racing when it was just for fun and going on training rides with my friends in the summer and how much I enjoyed that time.
– What made you come to the US?
I decided to come to the US and race to try something new. I had been racing for eight years in Europe and thought that getting out on my own and trying new races against new riders would help me improve in new ways, and I really think it has. My first year, last year, had a lot of ups and downs, but it all ended really well at the Tour of Alberta, where I was mixing it up in the end of some of the stages with some of the best sprinters in the world. That also helped me gain a lot of experience and confidence that I can use this year in all of the big races that I will do with the Bissell Development Team.
– This year, you already got a very good result, the points jersey in the Redlands Classic. I presume this was a huge morale boost.
Indeed it was. Especially because it was a green jersey and I’m really proud of the way I won it. I went in a long break on two occasions and won all the sprint points that I was going for. The fact that I was feeling good in the race and proved to others that I was able to get a good result was a huge boost to my moral and is good for my motivation in the training.
– Do you know your schedule for the next months?
Right now I’m training in Colorado to get used to the altitude and train on some longer climbs before Tour of the Gila. After Gila I will go to California to prepare for the Tour of California where I’m hoping to prove myself in some of the sprint finishes and help my teammates on the stages where they have a better shot at a good result than me. After California I’ll go back to Europe for the nationals before I will take a short break from racing to get in some recovery.
– And what goals do you have for 2014?
I really want to do well in every race that I do this year but I realize that I have to prove myself on a few specific occasions if I want to move on to a bigger team next year. The Tour of California is my biggest focus in the spring and then the Tour of Denmark and Tour of Alberta in the fall.
– I know you love the Classics. Why is that?
I love the Classics because of their unpredictable character. A lot of different scenarios can occur and a lot of different riders can win them. At the same time, they are always the hardest races and especially the Classics in northern Europe are usually influenced by difficult weather which only makes them even more difficult.
– What is your big dream, which Classic would you like to win?
My favorite Classic is the Paris-Roubaix and of course I dream of one day being able to do really well in that race. More realistically though I think I will do better in races that are a little more sprinter friendly, like Gent-Wevelgem or Paris-Tours.
– Is there a chance you’ll go pro in 2015? Or you haven’t thought about it yet?
There’s no doubt that I want nothing more than to turn pro as soon as possible if I prove myself worthy. I have thought a lot about what teams will be good for me but at this point it is still too soon to tell if I’ll be able to turn professional next year.