Groupama- FDJ’s Swedish rouleur on his love of skiing and the mental stress of cycling
I do a little bit of everything at FDJ.
I like to work for Arnaud Démare and be in his train sometimes, and also be in the mountains for Thibaut Pinot or David Gaudu. And now I am more into the classics with Stefan Küng, which I’m excited about. Now I’m in the main group for the classics, which is super nice, and the team has confidence in us.
I never did Roubaix or Flanders before, so this year will be very special.
I started with mountain biking, so it could be nice for me - that’s what I tell my Swedish friends. It’s the team that decides who rides in the end, but of course I am happy to be doing it for the first time.
I played ice hockey from the very beginning.
It was a traditional thing in my family. My grandpa played and my brother also. I had some friends who were doing mountain biking and they asked me to join. Since then I got into cycling. I was doing some road training to get some speed for mountain biking, and then I switched focus when I was 17, 18. It seems like all the old Swedish professionals got in through mountain biking. Like Gustav Larsson and Thomas Löfkvist, they all switched over to road racing.
I’m the only Swedish guy in the WorldTour.
Cycling is quite big in Sweden, but not for athletes, more for gran fondos and recreation. It’s just a pity that it doesn’t reach out to the kids. Maybe it’ll change in the future, maybe through mountain biking, like me. Let’s hope.
hear Sweden and think it’s like Siberia, but it’s actually not too bad.
I live in the south, only two hours from Denmark. This winter even Denmark had snow so it was a special one. There are smaller climbs where I live in Sweden, a bit like in Belgium, up to three or four kilometres. For me, it’s enough. It’s what I need. They’re big enough to do my efforts.
This is my fifth year at FDJ.
It’s passing really fast, actually. I was a bit scared in the first place, going to a French-speaking team, because I spoke no French at all. It was hard at the beginning, but luckily the team was changing a little bit during this time, too. They signed Davide Cimolai and Jacopo Guarnieri, who could speak English.
Now it’s turning more into an international team.
Here, at Opening Weekend, there are no French riders, which is pretty strange. Even some sport directors are taking English lessons. It will help them communicate with the riders and also in the UCI meetings. It’s not a bad thing to learn some English.
There aren’t any races you can come in to at 80 per cent any more.
You have to be at 100 in every race these days. It is more and more serious. All the teams are going to altitude camps, even in December. It has changed a lot since I became pro. In the end, we are athletes and we should be serious all the time.
The season is really long for us as well.
It is hard mentally to be at that level for all of us. We start at Down Under in January, and you can race into November, so it’s a special sport. I always train well in the winter, but I’m struggling by the end of the season. I’m not the only one like this. Physically, I feel like I’m struggling at the end of the year. Scandinavians like to train, even if it’s minus five degrees or whatever. We go out on a gravel bike and do our hours.
Cross-country skiing is good because you use your whole body, the core and everything.
I really feel that helps me now. Having a passion for skiing, besides cycling, I think it’s very important for the middle of the season. To have some other things you like is good.
I would really like to go to the Olympics.
It’s not done yet, I need to qualify. I need to finish in the top eight of a WorldTour or .Pro race - I need to get a good result in order to get myself to Tokyo. I want to do the road race. Sweden has just one spot, but the organisation is really strict. You have to meet the criteria.