Sunweb’s young Dutch climber on his musical talents and Giro top- 10 inish this year
What is your favourite race?
Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia. I feel something for these really big one-day Classics, these big monuments. I find them so special, but I cannot really explain what it is. It’s the atmosphere, the distance, the heroics all around them. These two are the races that suit me the best of the five monuments. Liège most of all because it is closer to home. I know the roads and I raced on them as a junior.
What is your favourite climb?
I often train in the Ardennes, the area of Liège, and in Limburg, the area of Amstel. I often say the Eyserbosweg. During my time with Rabobank we trained out there and somehow it suited me, I was really good at it. When it’s in races I always attack there. Also, the Roche-aux-Faucons in Liège.
Who is the best domestique in the peloton?
Roy Curvers. It wouldn’t be nice of me to only name one, but Roy, as a captain and a domestique, is always thinking about the other guys.
Who is your funniest team-mate?
We just talked about it this afternoon, about laughing and imitating each other’s laughs. When Simon Geschke is laughing then I also need to laugh.
What’s your secret talent?
I play the piano and the guitar. I taught myself the piano, and I had guitar lessons for two years. After that, I kept practising. I play all kinds of stuff – on the guitar I’m a really big fan of The Tallest Man on Earth, John Mayer and Jack Johnson. But it all started with rock – high school punk, like Blink182, Sum 41 – that sh*t, you know? I still love it though. I started the guitar when I was 12, I think, then the piano a few years later. I would sneak into my sister’s room – she had the piano – and teach myself.
What result are you proudest of in your career up to now?
As a first-year junior I won GP Rüebliland, which was a World Cup race. Two months before, I was on holiday in Greece for three weeks. I did an incredible TT and also attacked. And I don’t think I will ever forget that I finished top 10 in the Giro this year, which was also my first grand tour.
What’s the toughest day you’ve had on the bike?
The second stage of Paris-Nice last year. From start to finish it was full gas, rain, four degrees, echelons. It was war from beginning to end. Everybody was completely frozen. That’s also the crazy thing: the more brutal the weather, the more brutal the riders get. I think I did 300 watts average over that whole day.
What’s the best prize you’ve ever won at a race?
When I get a really big bottle of special beer and I can give it to my grandfather.
Can you tell us the story behind one of your scars?
Once, I crashed pretty hard and I have a scar on my left arm. I was a U23 rider and it was a pro race. We were in a breakaway really deep into the final, so I was super excited. We were riding slightly downhill at maybe 50km/h. Then the guy in front of me swung out – I think he moved to the left while I was looking back and I crashed really hard. Since then, I don’t dare to look back on the bike.
"I play all kinds of stuff - on the guitar I'm a really big fan of The Tallest Man on Earth, John Mayer and Jack Johnson"