Meet Martijn Tusveld – One of Netherlands’ hottest prospects
Among the many young riders to turn pro next year there will be also Martijn Tusveld, alumni of the new defunct Rabobank Continental, one of the best U23 teams cycling has ever known. Born in Utrecht, the same town that has hosted the 2016 Tour de France Grand Depart, Martijn is a rider who showcased his talent early, ever since his first U23 year, when he finished the Tour of China in the top 10 overall.
As years passed, the young Dutchman continued to improve and notch up other eye-catching results, such as second in Paris-Tours, third in Piccolo Giro di Lombardia and fourth in Liège–Bastogne–Liège, but also a runner-up spot at the National ITT Championships. In the final months of the 2016 season, the 23-year-old joined World Tour outfit Giant-Alpecin as a trainee and got to race against the pros, taking several strong results, out of which stands out the 8th place he got in the Abu Dhabi Tour, ahead of many established World Tour riders.
Following this strong and convincing showing, it was only natural for Martijn Tusveld to get a contract, which came from Netherlands’ sole professional team, Roompot-Oranje. This means that next year he’ll learn the trade in the pro peloton, while continuing his development and finding his place in the peloton as he will try to make a name for himself and confirm his potential.
– Martijn, how did you come into cycling?
My parents were both riding bikes, not in races but in our holidays, where we went to the mountains, mostly in France. I began to like it more and more, and when I was 12 I wanted to join a cycling team.
– Did you have an idol or a rider you looked up to at that time?
Not really. In the first years I was not thinking about turning pro, so I was not really watching the pro races, it was more a passion. Before cycling, I had done soccer and tennis, and that was nice, but one day I decided I wanted a new challenge, most of all for the fun.
– How were your first years in the sport?
The first 18 months I didn’t do so many races and I had problems when it came to riding in the peloton in the hectic Dutch races. Then, in my last year as U17 I was able to compete against some of the best riders in the Netherlands, but the results were mostly top 10 placings and I can’t say that I came really close to a win. It was only when I stepped up to the U19 category that I became a better rider and began winning races. Another important aspect in my development was that I raced events that suited me better and traveled outside the Netherlands, where I got to race at altitude, which was important in terms of getting some nice results later.
– Since 2012, you rode for Rabobank Development. Looking behind, how was that experience?
I was the last rider to get a contract at Rabobank that year, but that was really important for me. With Rabobank Continental I was able to do more races in other countries, which is something I really needed. In the past five years I did more and more races outside the Netherlands. In the team I learned a lot about racing and also about how to take care of yourself during stage races. It’s a big shame for Dutch cycling that the team has to stop at the end of this year. The outfit has such a huge history and tradition in the development of young and talented riders, just look at all the guys who turned pro after riding for Rabobank. I am really grateful for riding in this team for the past five years.
– Giving that you got strong results in all kind of races and across various types of terrain, what type of rider do you consider yourself?
That’s a difficult question to answer. For sure I am better when it comes to longer efforts, so I like stage races the most, but I think I can be regarded also as a rider for time trials. For the longer climbs, I always thought I was too heavy to get a good result, that was until the Abu Dhabi Tour, in October. That was for the first time I got a good result on a long climb. That top 10 was an eye-opener for me. Now that I know I’m able to do pretty good on this type of climbs, I am curious of what I can do in bigger races.
– What are your strongest points at the moment and on what you’d like to work to improve?
I think my strongest point is that I am an all-rounder. Because I rode in the Netherlands in the youth categories I am also used to riding in the echelons and I am not scared of fighting for my place in the peloton. What I want to improve is my climbing, because until now I could do only one big effort during a race, as almost all the races I did had just one climb at the finish. So the plan is to get better in races with multiple climbs on the course.
– And what are your expectations ahead of your maiden pro season with Roompot-Oranje?
As I already did some races as a stagiaire with Giant-Alpecin on a bigger level, I know a little bit better what to expect from next year. Most of the races I did on .HC level were hard, but I was already able to do well in those races. Not only for myself, but I could also help other riders from the team in the closing part of the race. Now that I already did some races I think I’m less nervous ahead of next season’s races than other neo-pros. I’m not scared at all, on the contrary, I am looking forward to these challenges, although I must admit that I don’t know what to expect for in the World Tour races. This is something exciting, which I can’t wait to discover.
– Speaking of this, what are your favourite races?
My dream is to win one day the Tour de France, which is such a beautiful race. I really like riding stage races and one of my dreams has always been to ride a Grand Tour one day. That’s where I hope to get in the next years, but first I must find out how much I can grow as a climber.