The Luxembourger – winner of the coveted Giro d'Italia maglia bianca – shared his thoughts on racing the 100th edition of the Corsa Rosa, his recovery period and his build up for the second part of the year, including the team's recent altitude training camp in Livigno.
I was super happy with how the Giro played out for us. Of course, it started really well when Gaviria won and took the pink jersey on stage 3. I think we proved a lot of strength already from that stage and from there we only kept going as a team.
That we were able keep the maglia rosa within the team for six stages was quite impressive and an incredible experience. I was really just humbled and overwhelmed by wearing it on my shoulders for five of the stages. In Grand Tours, it is always hard work and never easy to protect the leader's jersey but were racing like a true Grand Tour GC team.
I have to emphasize that Fernando really rode an incredible Giro, which of course gave a lot of motivation to the rest of the team. I had a few bad days, where I suffered a bit, but apart from that, I think I can be pleased with my own performance as well.
Taking home the stage victory in Bergamo was quite amazing. It was a special sprint to the finish, which is also known from Il Lombardia, and I was happy to conclude it with a victory against the other GC contenders.
After the Giro, I think I recovered quite well. I took it easy for a week, and then I actually went back to Italy, in Sardinia, with my girlfriend, for a nice vacation. I brought my bike there and restarted with really, really easy spinning.
Going into the nationals I felt I was coming back to my normal level after a good period of recovery, so I was of course delighted to convert my form into a win and pull on the national jersey for one more year. It is always an honour to represent your country around the world.
I have just concluded a two-week altitude training camp in Livigno with the team. It was perfect to have 13 riders together to push each other and get a good block of training under the belt, and of course have some fun when we were not on the bike. We were fortunate to stay at Alpen Village, which is a perfectly located hotel in the mountains, serving great food, which is something you truly appreciate when being away for two full weeks, spending six hours a day in the saddle.
The camp was especially interesting for me as this was the first time I have done two altitude camps in one year. I am hoping we will see the benefits of that in the second half of the season, and why not, maybe now in Poland where I will come back to racing for the Tour de Pologne; it's a very nice and hard race that I like and I think it is a good option for us riders who do not do the Tour to try something over there – I am for sure keen to do my best in order to get a good result in my first outing after this off period.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele