The 24-year-old cyclist stepped up on the Basque circuit, and in the next nine days he will start three races that absolutely fit his profile.
Let’s deal with it in chronological order, since last week you took part in the Basque Tour, and in addition to playing a key role in the overall victory of your teammate, Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard, you also came in 13th place. Was this your best competition so far in the colors of Jumbo-Visma?
– Maybe yes, many people asked “what was the breakfast”, but joking aside, I was able to influence the outcome of the given competition the most, and that’s a pretty great feeling in such a high-quality field – Valter Attila told Nemzeti Sport. – My thirteenth place is a huge result, especially since I often went into the wind, at the front, I stopped the attacks, this consumes a lot of energy. In the last few weeks, I was already in good shape on the Strade Bianché or the Tirreno-Adriatico, but the Basque circuit is a new level, which was confirmed by the delivered watts and the team.
– Does the jumbo preparation period have that much added value?
– On the one hand, yes, because I train much more focused and harder. There are stronger and more relaxed weeks, but the key is that even though I rest on the relaxed weeks, my performance does not drop. Last year it was completely different, I had much less rest, but because of that I also recovered much more, which resulted in a decrease in performance, so the acquired form disappeared. In addition, there is also a factor – which I have to deal with – that I often do not go for myself.
“What do you mean by that, what do you have to deal with?”
– The role that was assigned to me in the Basque circuit, for example, is much less stressful to help Jonas, to work under him. For some reason, I am stronger at this time than if they told me to go for myself, obviously this follows from the fact that the burden of the hardest part, when you have to win the race, is no longer on my shoulders. In that sense, it’s even better that I started the season so strongly, because it also increases my confidence for the times when the eyes of the world will be on me.
– However, his self-confidence could not be much higher than it is now…
– But it is very important that this self-confidence does not come from outside. It is based on doing very high-quality work, so we know that if nothing unexpected comes up – let’s say a flat tire – then I will be fine. And if there is no external reason for the lower performance, then an illness may be lurking, but the point is that there will always be a reason why it doesn’t work, because we are stronger than most of the field. But if something comes in the way, such as bad sleep or a cold, which can happen to anyone, we don’t “stab ourselves in the heart” either, because we know that we did everything, and that’s why it’s easy enough to compete.
– Please don’t take the question seriously: Jonas Vingegaard is twenty-six years old, two years older than you, just as long as he burst into the world’s best. Is his career path a foreshadowing at any level?
– I understand the comparison, but let’s face it, when Jonas was that old, he came second in the Tour de France, and I certainly won’t start this year. We are different types of competitors, starting from the fact that he has a much weaker physique, which is why he is better suited to the long hills that decide the three-week races. Maybe one day I will have a chance to win at the highest level competitions, but I definitely agree from that point of view, and I would like there to be a similarity in this, that I also come from somewhere, and the talent that I have, in two years here, is higher than Jumbo level.
– The Ardennes classics are coming in the next few weeks, the first is the Amstel Gold Race, and here the situation arises that you can compete for your own success. How it is made?
– The Belgian Tiesj Benoot from the team will be there at these competitions, I will have to work with him, we will have tactics for each day. He has the advantage of being a much more routine competitor than me, and local knowledge is very important here, which is why I already traveled to the Netherlands on Wednesday.
– From the point of view of competitive characteristics, these are almost perfect terrains for you, since there are no very long climbs.
“In that sense, of course, it’s clear.” It’s no coincidence that in recent months I’ve prepared the best for these races, specifically for these three, Amstel, Liege–Bastogne–Liege and Fléche Wallonne. I do a lot of work that involves shorter, oxygen-deprived sprints of a minute or two. I will have the extra pressure that we talked about earlier, but the fact that these are one-day competitions makes it easier, so if something doesn’t work out, the next opportunity will come in a few days.