Ciclissimo! The Cobbles-you’ve historically performed well on them and seem to relish riding them- what is the best technique and how does it change in different conditions such as the rain? Or do you just lay down the power and say a prayer?!
Jasper Stuyven. I think it is just a combination of have power to keep your speed as high as possible. It is also important that you let your bike choose a little bit his own way on the cobbles and don’t sit too cramped on the bike. So far I have never ridden a rainy Roubaix so I don’t know exactly how that would go for me but in those conditions it is important to go lower on the tire pressure and don’t brake on the cobbles!
C!. Strade Bianche; This year the race ended badly after you tweeted about being excited to be lining up to race the white roads..Talk us through that day:
JS. I was already hoping to be at the start last year so I was really happy when I knew I would be at the start this year. We did the recon of the last 50 kilometers of the race and I was feeling really comfortable on the dirt sectors.
The beginning of the race and the first sectors went pretty good for me. I was always in the good position and didn’t feel too much stress on the dirt. Getting to the final Astana put the hammer down on a very long sector and I was in 7th position or something, nothing to stress about and I was able to follow without being on the limit. Unfortunately, we came around a corner in to an open field where the wind was blowing from the right. The wind took me by suprise and before I even realised my front wheel was gone and I was on the ground. I had to abandon the race due to a deep hole in my left elbow.. I was 7 hours in the Italian hospital.
C!. Does being skilled on the cobbles help at Strade Bianche- are there similarities do you think?
JS. If you have the right technique on the bike you will be good in Strade Bianche and on the cobbles. It is just how you handle your bike so I do think there are similarities.
C!. We’ve seen some renowned Northern Classics riders winning in Siena. Is your ability on the cobbles something that maybe makes you look at Strade Bianche with ambitions in the future?
JS. I don’t know yet if I want to be at the start again of Strade Bianche. For now, my goals and ambitions are at the Northern Classics and this year has shown that riding Strade Bianche contains a lot of risks. I don’t know yet if I’ll take that risk again after what happened this year.
JS. Thanks to the University of Leuven I have a lot of training facilities close by and one of them is the Oxygen Chamber. I am not a big fan of sleeping at altitude because the past and some tests have shown that the benefit I get from it is not so big. Although training sessions at altitude gives me a bigger benefit. I ride 2-3 times a week for 2 hours at an altitude of 2250 meters and we can see the improvement that I make already from the the second session.
C!. What has been the most chaotic day in the peloton? One you look back on and think “What the hell was that all about?!”
JS. I think I would say the mountain stage in the Vuelta last year (the one before the second rest day). We knew it was going to be a really hard day with a lot of climbing and a lot of us were hoping that the break would go before the first climb after 12 kilometers, but that didn’t happen. So we went up the climb full gas and there were rider all over. After that climb we had another 3 big climbs coming up so that was for me a pretty chaotic day in the peloton.
C!. You recently got a shiny new CX bike I see- are we going to see you racing around Heverlee park this winter?
JS. You will see me riding around the park this winter, but no racing for me. I just like to have fun on the trails with my MTB and now a CX bike in the winter.
C!. And who controls the stereo on the Trek coach?! What music do you get pre -race and on the transfer?
JS. Danny, our bus driver is the one who does the music before and the race. Most of the times he puts on some playlists from Tomorrowland and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike.
C!. What is your dream race, the one that motivates you to get on the bike each morning?
JS. Paris-Roubaix !!
C!. I heard a rumour that you are quite fond of a certain gelateria in Lucca.. does the name Bonta mean anything to you?..
JS. Unforunately I am not longer staying in Lucca this year and past winter. That also means no longer the amazing ice cream from Le Bonta. I took a while before we found it when we were staying there but maybe it is better like that. I would show up at the races with some overweight I guess ;-)!