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Odd Christian Eiking: “2016 – a learning season”

Four riders will turn pro with FDJ in 2016, and one of these will be Odd Christian Eiking, who I’m sure many know since two seasons ago, when he signed with Joker, one of Norway’s best teams when it comes to finding and developing young riders. Just 21-years-old, Odd began cycling when he was 10, just for fun, but with time began thinking he can forge a career in this sport, so decided to focus 100% on it.

After a strong ride in the 2013 Tour of Berlin – which he finished 10th – Odd was picked up by Joker, where he found the perfect environment to thrive and land some important results which caught the attention of many pro teams: in his CV you can find a string of top ten placings in the Course de la Paix, Arctic Race of Norway and Giro della Valle d’Aosta (where he also took an impressive stage win in Pont-Saint-Martin), as well as the U23 national title and a runner-up position at the Elite Norwegian Championships.

Maybe even more important than these results of Odd were the attitude and maturity displayed on each occasion, these two recommending him – alongside his talent – for a big future in the World Tour, where he will make his debut in just a couple of weeks, at the Challenge Mallorca. Until then, he made some time to sit down and give an interview for Cafe Roubaix.

– Odd, are you satisfied with your season?

I’m pretty happy with a lot of races, I had some good performances, and even though there were some reasons to be disappointed, I’m satisfied with the overall picture. The Norwegian Championships went well for me with the win in the U23 race and the runner-up position in the Elite race. I felt strong in that period, and I took advantage of my form not only on home turf, but also in Giro della Valle d’Aosta, where I got a stage victory. Another important result was my sixth place in the general classification of the Arctic Race of Norway, because I proved that I can compete against some of the best cyclists in the world.

– I know that the Tour de l’Avenir was one of your top goals, but things somehow didn’t click there. What happened?

Yes, at first I had this race pinpointed as an important goal, but by that point I’ve already had a long season, preceded by a pretty hard and intense training session in the winter, so my body and my head just weren’t at the top for that race. I’m a little bit disappointed, because it would have been nice to get a result there.

– How do you look back on the years spent with Joker?

I learnt a lot in the past two seasons in the team. I got to do many very good races with them, and also got to score some strong results. I’m very happy with my two years in Joker, a team which helped me improve in many areas, from climbing to sprinting.

– And what it is that you still want to improve?

In 2016 I will watch and learn and will adapt to the World Tour rigors and races, which I’m aware that are completely different than anything I have encountered in my career so far. After I will do a couple of events, I’ll have a clearer picture of what I have to improve, but in general I think I must become stronger in order to cope with this level.

– You recently completed your first training camp with FDJ. How was it?

It was nice to meet the team and train together for the first time before next year. We did some good training sessions and prepared the next season in practical ways too. It means one important step forward, and I felt that it will be good for me, to compete against the best in the world will help me develop as a rider.

– Do you know your schedule for next year?

I will start my season in the last days of January, in Spain, at the Challenge Mallorca, then move to France and follow up with La Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut Var and Tour de Provence. I’m also on a 12-rider list for Paris-Nice, but I’ll find out if I go there after I will complete the first races. Afterwards, I’m scheduled for Criterium International, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

– And what goals and expectations do you have?

I hope to enjoy a smooth start, to take every race at a time, and then to come into top shape for the Ardennes Classics. I’m not saying I will go after a good result there, just that I know that the best cyclists in the world will be there and I want to be able to have a strong ride, to discover the parcours and to adapt to the tough level of these races. I love the Classics, so hopefully, the Ardennes will turn out to be a beautiful experience, one of the best of the season for me.

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