Just 20-year-old and in his first season with Giant-Shimano Development, Fredrik Ludvigsson had a strong year, and despite of a knee injury, clocked some good results in the Circuit des Ardennes, the Tour de Normandie, Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and also at the National Championships.
Now he is ready for a new chapter of his career, which will start in just two weeks, when he’ll ride for Giant-Shimano as a stagiaire in the Arctic Race of Norway. More on his season and the expectations he has for the next races you can read in the following interview, which I did last week, when Fredrik Ludvigsson was preparing for the Tour d’Alsace, his first race in a month.
– Fredrik, how did you start cycling?
I’ve started cycling a long time ago as a mountain biker, when I was just nine. My brother (ed. – Tobias Ludvigsson) did mountain bike, so I also wanted to try, I did that and I liked it, and then I started cycling. At that time, I was also playing ice hockey, so in the winter I trained for ice hockey and in the summer for cycling. I did that for a really long time, but then I stopped playing hockey when I was around 16 to focus on cycling.
– How were the first years?
My first years were good, I had talent and I won some races, so it was fun, even if the level in Sweden isn’t great. Cycling in Sweden is not so big and there aren’t many riders, but we have some strong cyclists and it’s really difficult to win races.
– Last year you rode for Team People4you–Unaas Cycling, while this year you are riding for Giant-Shimano Development. Can you make a comparison between the two teams?
There aren’t big differences, I’ve did some good races last year and also now, but last year everyone talked the same language compared to this year, when we have a lot of different kind of languages. Of course, Giant-Shimano Development is more professional, but the differences aren’t so big. I have developed my language skills and I’m also a bit smarter than last year. Unfortunately, because of the injuries and the other problems I’ve had, I didn’t develop so much and the results of this year weren’t as good as those of last season.
– In the past two seasons you’ve had some impressive results. What’s the one that makes you the most proud of?
That has to be the ITT and the GC win in the Boucle de l’Artois. It’s not the biggest race in the world, but to get a win is always nice.
– You are a good time triallist, but you also climb well. Are you thinking of developing into a stage race rider in the future?
That’s true, and I also have a good recovery and just feel better and better with every stage. In the future, if I can develop my time trial and my climbing skills, I think I can do well in stage races like Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, and of course, in the three Grand Tours.
– Did you expect to be selected as a stagiaire for Giant-Shimano from August 1st?
No, actually I didn’t expect this after having a year with a lot of injuries and knee problems. But maybe they saw some potential in me, because I had pretty good results in some hard stage races, despite my leg problems, so they wanted to see me also on the big stage, which makes me very happy. Being a stagiaire is something really big for me, a dream come true, to ride at the highest level with the best riders in the world is just crazy, and I’m going to give everything I can to do well, so that next year I can make my World Tour debut.
– As a stagiaire, you’ll ride the Arctic Race of Norway and the Tour of Britain. What will be your expectations for these races?
I want to have good results in the GC of both races, but I don’t know if it will be possible in Norway, because in the last four weeks I didn’t train almost at all on the bike, after a long first half of the season with many health problems and many races. I had a long rest after the Swedish Nationals and then I just did some mountain bike, running and gym for seven days. Afterwards, I was sick for a week, so in the last four weeks I’ve lost a lot of training. But we are going to both races with really good teams and I want to do a good job for the team. Besides the Arctic Race of Norway and Tour of Britain, I also want to get a good result at the World Championships.