Posted Tue, 02/26/2013 - 16:42
New year, new team but the same old gruelling pre-season! While some people might think that I lie around doing nothing but relaxing for a few months, it’s just not the case. Sure, I take a two week break, go on holidays and try to enjoy myself but my next ride is never far from my mind so subconsciously I’m always thinking how I can stay in the best shape possible. I must admit I did enjoy the 10 days holiday I took with my girlfriend last November in Bali, but by the end of it I was pulling my hair out wanting to get on the bike, weird I know.
This pre-season changing teams played on my mind a bit more than I thought it would have. While I would have known some of the Saxo Tinkoff guys from my years in the Peloton, it’s different when you’re joining their team. I’m the new guy coming into their set up so part of you is always a bit nervous, but this year they had several new riders which does make it a bit easier. It’s like the first day of school all over again! I’m happy to report that things have been great with them so far. I really got to know them in some of our pre-season camps in Gran Canaria which, with team bonding activities, is a good environment to see what their personalities are like when they are not riding. They all made me feel really welcome so it’s a huge relief to be honest.
The season started well for me with Tour de Med. Overall I was happy with my first performance in the Saxo Tinkoff kit. The team worked really well for me during the week and I was also happy with my time trial which is an area I had been working on during the winter. I hope you all took note of my new position, it was a lot of days patience and hard work in the making! 5th place overall was good but there’s always room for improvement. I have to admit, for a new rider with a new team, there is a certain sense of relief when it’s finished. It’s like with any pro sport, those first game nerves are difficult to get rid of but when it’s over you can just look forward to the next one.
Tour du Haut Var was next up and it started really positively for me and the team. Some great work by the guys had me finish in the top 10 on stage one and while we stuck to our plan for the second and final stage, it just didn’t work out for us. Sometimes that happens but you just have to figure out where it went wrong and make sure we correct it for the next time. It was good to ride with the officially Danish but really Irish rider Chris Juul Jensen there. Born in Ireland to Danish parents, and raised in ireland until he was fifteen, Chris is in his second year as a pro, a big character and definitely a rider to watch out for in the future. HIs Danish look with Dublin/Wicklow accent is something you do not come across every day.
Speaking of Ireland, it’s been an exciting week for Irish cycling. First, Martyn Irvine made Irish cycling history by taking a gold and a silver at the Track World Champs. Some amazing performances by him. It’s nice to see hard work pay off for somebody who really deserves it. Then the news broke that the 2014 Giro will start in Ireland. A few stages of a Grand Tour in your home country is a dream come true and while it’s a long way away yet, I’m already thinking how I would love to ride it, a change in my usual schedule next year is definitely on my mind. Great work by everyone who made that happen.
I’ve also made my opinions clear on the new points system suggested by the UCI but for any of you who follow my twitter you know what I’m talking about! We’ll see what happens on that front.
Next for me is the Paris Nice race which I’m really excited about. The team just spent one week training in Corsica where we dealt with rain, wind, sleet and snow so I feel like I’m ready for anything! Talk soon and as always, thanks for your support. Nico.