In his first blog of this season, the Dutchman talks of the emotion of becoming World TTT Champion for the third time, and also of Tom Boonen's influence on the team.
Looking back at 2016, I have to admit spring didn't really go like I was hoping, but I have to say it like it is: I wasn't good enough to achieve the goals that I was aiming for. It hurts when you realise that, but of course this is part of the sport and you can't let your confidence go down because of this, you just have to keep on fighting.
So in this case I made up for it by riding a great Eneco Tour and winning the general classification, and of course, the World Championships in Qatar! Overall, I think I did a good season last year. Looking back at the Worlds in Qatar... Becoming World TTT Champion for the third time was really something!
I'm very proud that I could be part of the team and win three gold medals. The TTT is something super cool. Riding together with your teammates and getting that much desired victory makes things even more special. We worked hard for that day and have really put in so much effort together with the entire staff, and that's why I was so happy to finish it off with a third success.
My son is obsessed with cycling as well, most of all now that he is riding his BMX. Unfortunately, I'm not always home but when I am I go with him on training, I love seeing him on his bike and see how well he does on it with tricks and everything.
He's even that obsessed that when it's bad weather and I have to train on the rollers he's next to me doing the same thing all happy and everything, whereas me not so much. I only do it when it's really bad weather. He's keen on living a rider's life. For example, he loves pasta. When I'm home between races or during the off-season, we eat pasta, pasta, pasta!
I'm really gonna miss this guy! I rode most of my career with him and he was always there with me when I achieved my biggest victories. He's part of my career and I've learned a lot from him.
Tom is always someone who's very relaxed in the hours leading up to the race; I can't say the same thing about me, as I am a bit nervous sometimes, but fortunately he brings balance to our team and knows how to create a great mood in the squad ahead of the start and motivate everyone!
Winning Roubaix was the absolute goal of my career. It didn't really change much in my life, the only thing that changed was that it gave me more confidence. I can't even put into words how much I love this unique race!
We are prepared, focused and very motivated for the upcoming edition! We know every stretch of cobbles, we know how to respond to the different scenarios that can occur during the race and we are ready to write another page of history on Sunday afternoon!
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele