Procycling - - PROLOGUE -

Af­ter a test­ing year, the Vuelta a Es­paña turned out to be re­ally good for me be­cause I could show I had some great shape to­wards the end of the year. While I didn’t win a stage, which was frus­trat­ing and quite sad, I got a se­cond, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth on stage fin­ishes. And at least my hard work got some recog­ni­tion. In truth, I hadn’t felt that good since Paris-Nice, so it was a re­lief as well.

Halfway through the race, I was told that I had also made Bel­gium’s team for the World Cham­pi­onships, which of course is a re­ally great hon­our. That gave me an ex­tra morale boost for the rest of the race, and helped with my re­sults. This will be the se­cond time I’ve rid­den the Worlds as a pro­fes­sional. I’m quite glad I man­aged to get my de­but out of the way last year. The World Cham­pi­onships is so dif­fer­ent be­cause you’re rac­ing with guys you usu­ally try and beat and against guys who you spend all year with. Rac­ing the Worlds last year means I know what is com­ing and I can fo­cus to­tally on the course… which is quite a tasty one and very hilly. In fact, the Vuelta was per­fect prepa­ra­tion be­cause many of the moun­tain fin­ishes were quite sim­i­lar to what we ex­pect on the Worlds course. Still, there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween rac­ing for the win from a break in a stage race and rac­ing for the win from the front in the Worlds.

Mang­ing the gap be­tween the end of the Vuelta and the Worlds has been a bit of a chore, to be hon­est. I’m used to rac­ing a long sea­son, but hold­ing form for two weeks af­ter the Vuelta does go against the grain a lit­tle bit.

Dy­lan came ag­o­nis­ingly close to a win at the Vuelta on stage 17’s sum­mit in­ish Some rid­ers are wind­ing down, not tak­ing things too se­ri­ously and I’m still hav­ing to main­tain rigid dis­ci­pline be­cause form can evap­o­rate just like that if you don’t watch your­self. It would be eas­ier if I had long rides to do – that would kill the time – but the Vuelta gave me all the base miles I could pos­si­bly need. So now my train­ing con­sists mostly of short days and that means I’ve got more time on my hands than usual.

Still, I also have some nice rac­ing af­ter the worlds: Giro dell’Emilia, Mi­lan-Turin and Il Lom­bar­dia. They’re races that suit me and it would be a shame to let such good op­por­tu­ni­ties go to waste. Af­ter that I will have a team meet­ing with my new squad, Bahrain-Merida which makes me both ex­cited and a lit­tle ner­vous. Af­ter that I will think about some hol­i­day plans.

At the mo­ment, for me, the sea­son still feels like it is in full swing.

Hold­ing form for two weeks af­ter the Vuelta to the Worlds does go against the grain

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