When I was 18 years old and I got an offer to sign a contract with the Continental Squad of Rabobank I knew exciting thing were coming, what I didn’t know was how good was it going to be!
I had to take it step by step, coming to a big team it’s a big challenge and requires a lot of dedication and effort but it feels great when you get the results you worked so hard for and especially when that step on the top of the podium that everyone wants its yours… when you cross the finish line in 1st place and you feel like you’re on top of the World!
This season I had a big goal in mind, it was my last year as an U23 rider and I wanted to sign a pro contract for the next season, I worked really hard last winter and made a lot of sacrifices along the way because I had to stay really focused on my goal.
We had our first training camp in February and the atmosphere of the team was great, it helps a lot for your results when you are part of such an amazing team, everything is so well organized and we (riders) keep good relationships with each other and with all the staff, which it’s the perfect thing to stay motivated and be at your best.
The season did not start as well as I wanted, but I performed very well in the Tour of Bretagne and that’s when everything started to go really well for me.
Another of the big goals for me this season was to win Olympia’s tour, I won it back in 2009 and I couldn’t defend my title in 2010 so I wanted to peak for that race this year.
I am super proud to say I achieved this goal, taking the title and also winning 2 stages and the points, mountains and sprints classifications, it was unbelievable! I had the support of the team and of course my family and friends were there to cheer me up.
The next big event of the season was the World Championships in Denmark so my coach and I made a special program to get there in my best form. I was in very good shape but the course didn’t really suit me, it was too flat and easy and also a bit short, I prefer a harder course where you can go for an attack and make the difference up that way but I finished 11th so I’m quite happy with that all things considered.
After that I got the news that the worlds were my last race for the Continental Squad. I was going to be a stagier for the Pro team, I had already done the Tour of Denmark and Tour de Wallonië before the Worlds. Now they picked me for Franco-Belge, memorial Frank Vandenbroucke and Paris Tours.
With that last one I already had some experience because I did the Paris Tours the year before for the U23 team, but now it was time to race against the big boys. This one was harder and longer but I really enjoyed it, I was involved in many attacks with Gilbert and Pim Ligthart and my form was really good! It was definitely a good experience.
Now the real fun begins as I have a Pro contract with Rabobank for the next 2 years. We had our team presentation earlier in December and our first training camp in Fuerteventura. It’s real now and there’s nothing I wanted more than this.
In January we have another training camp in Spain to get in to top shape for the season, my first race will be Mallorca Challenge and Volta Algarve will follow, after that I race Kuurne Brussel Kuurne. I looking to push myself this season, get stronger and improve my uphill skills and I also want to help the team win as many races as possible.
When I was 18 I thought this was a once in a lifetime chance to live my dream, now I know I’m living it!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2012!
Let’s get this party started!