Roman Kreuziger Interview
Team Tinkoff-Saxo’s Roman Kreuziger is tired but happy. It is mid January and it's been a solid day’s work at the most intensive training camp of the year; another day closer to form before his race season begins at the 2014 Tour of Oman next month.
as a good test for the races to follow. Tirreno-Adriatico is in March. Then it’s one of the key targets of 2014: the Ardennes Classics. In 2013, Kreuziger recorded the biggest one-day win of his career to date at the Amstel Gold Race. This morning’s climb was stiff but Kreuziger’s relaxed face and souplesse pedaling style conjured memories of his epic Dutch victory.
At Amstel he showed the fearless style that prompted sport director Bjarne Riis and Tinkoff-Saxo to recruit him from Astana at the end of 2012 and give him a three-year contract. With 17km to go he broke from the peloton, but still faced a tough 3km ascent to Cauberg. Experienced racers Philippe Gilbert and Alejandro Valverde attempted to chase him down… but to no avail. Kreuziger completed the 251km course in 6:35:21 to beat Valverde by 22 seconds.
‘Amstel is one of my favourite races and I’m looking forward to going back,’ Kreuziger says. ‘I’ll always remember that day with fondness and hopefully I’ll be in similar shape this year. But in my mind, I’m a bit more focused on Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Let’s just see what happens.’
A light rider like Kreuziger – he currently hits the scales at a whisker under 70kg – is suited more for the hills of the Ardennes Classics than the Flemish equivalent. Those cobbles demand a heavier rider to absorb the relentless vibrations, so events like Paris-Roubaix will remain off this Tinkoff-Saxo rider’s schedule. There’s also too great a risk of injury for a rider like Kreuziger, who’s aiming to show well at the Tour of Romandie, which he won in 2009, and the Tour of Suisse, where he won in 2008 and finished third in 2013.
An extra year training and acclimatising to the successful Tinkoff-Saxo team set-up sees Kreuziger as a true contender to win the Suisse event for the second time. Kreuziger suggests it’s possible due to the unique atmosphere he encounters at Tinkoff-Saxo, suggesting this teammates are more like a family. He’s also developed a trusting relationship with the coaching team with the constant two-way dialogue raising his chances of success while reducing risk of injury or overtraining.
‘With 12 months of training and racing behind us, the team and myself are more of aware of my performance equation. We know when to rest, when to unleash a hard effort or when to let the foot off the pedal a bit.
‘You read all the time about the importance of watts and weight on being your best,’ he continues. ‘And yes, all that stuff is important. But if you’re committed to an intense session like intervals and you have a coach who doesn’t listen, you can easily become ill. Here, when it comes to sessions like intervals, we’ll talk before training and after to assess how I’m feeling.’
That attention to detail at the Tinkoff-Saxo training camp stretches to nutrition. They have their own chef here – Hannah Grant – and source all their ingredients locally. The breadth and variety of recipes on the menu is astounding and contributes to