Hey up guys,
I thought it would be nice to check in and let you know a little bit about my first two and a half years at Team DSM and my first months in the Men’s program riding in the WorldTour.
When looking at where I started last year to where I am now, I feel like I have made some really good progress. The team did a really good job supporting me along the way and I have learned a lot tactically with understanding the races, how they differ, and also how to race as a team. I have also made big steps physically, which is obviously quite an important part of cycling! But also learned a lot off the bike, which makes the difference on the bike.
As a new member of the Men’s program, I enjoyed the Team Camp at the beginning of the year, however, it didn’t feel much different from last year when I was there with the Development program. The atmosphere was really good with all the guys and I think we have a really good group and team spirit. We all have each other’s back which is really nice. From the WorldTour team, I already knew some guys from last year as I already raced with Romain Bardet for example, but I also saw a lot of new faces. As a GC rider, I definitely look up to someone like Romain Bardet. I learned a lot by doing quite some races with him, but there are also some guys who are still young but already have quite some experience. They also help me a lot, despite their specialisation might be for a different type of parcours. I’ve set my goal for this year which is to keep developing myself both on and off the bike. I can learn so much from the WorldTour races too and I’ll also try to do my first Grand Tour at the end of the year with the Vuelta.
First race as WorldTour rider
We had two good Team Camps before I started my year in France at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var. The form was okay, but I was still getting in shape for the first racing block of the year. Obviously, it was my first race as WorldTour rider which was special, so I tried to enjoy it as well. It was a nice race to start the season with as we had a strong team there and in the end quite a solid race.
In Alps, the team did a good job and had a great fighting spirit, also considering that for most of the guys, this wasn’t really their type of racing. It was my first real experience as a GC rider in a stage race, something which gave me some confidence as well. To win the white jersey was quite special as it was my first one as a professional rider! We planned to follow the guy who was the closest to me; not only to win the white jersey but also to practice for the future, wherein I maybe have to fight for a leader’s jersey. It felt quite special to wear the jersey as people notice you a lot more and it also gives you some stature I think. In the end, it was nice to give something back to guys who worked really hard.