All images: ©Laura Fletcher
At the recent Bay Crits (see previous blog entry) Laura caught up with Koen de Kort of Trek-Segafredo.
Koen has joined the team for 2017 with the aim of riding in support of their other new signing John Degenkolb. Koen is not only one of the top lead-out riders in the peloton but also a first-rate performer in his own right, having won the U23 version of Paris-Roubaix and a stage of the 2005 Tour de l’Avenir.
So tell me what it’s like starting the year in new colours after all this time.
It’s quite interesting, I’m really happy to be here now. It’s a new look, something different. I hardly recognize myself when I see myself reflected in the shop windows, you know? So it’s all a bit weird, a bit different. But it’s really good, and I’m really excited this year about all the new kit and the new look. I think the team’s going to be really good as well.
You’ve been off to a training camp with them?
Yeah, so I spent some time in Australia already, before the training camp, then flew out to Spain for the camp. It was really good. I was happy that I was already in pretty good shape because there’s only big names on the team, there’s only good riders, so I’m very happy that I could join in straight away and not be the jetlagged one that gets dropped all the time.
It definitely feels like a bit of a step-up with the amount of quality riders that we have. It was a really good training camp.
No one ever thinks about how when a rider changes team they have like all new staff as well and they’re learning this completely new organization. What was that like for you after so many years?
Yeah it is definitely a bit different. Obviously I’ve been in cycling already for a really long time, so all the directeurs I already knew and a lot of the management I knew, and I had talked to the mechanics when we were sharing hotels so I knew a few people but yeah, it is definitely going to be completely different. It was already completely different at the training camp where, you know, I was really just trying to find out who does what, who’s a soigneur, who’s a mechanic . . . one of the soigneurs says to you, OK, come for a massage and you don’t even really know his name or what room you have to go to . . . it’s definitely different to what I’m used to after eight years in the same team I could basically find my way to their room with my eyes closed.
And what are you doing here at the Bay Crits?
I think it’s very important for riders like myself to support their local racing. This race has been around for a really long time and I think it should stay here, it’s great racing and I’m happy to be able to support this, and for myself it’s a good hit-out as well. I’ve done a lot of endurance riding but I guess it’s good to get a little intensity going before Tour Down Under, so it’s kind of like a try-out race to see how my shape is and on top of that really good training.
And your goals for the season?
Classics, first off, of course. I went with John Degenkolb to this team to support him in the Classics and that’s where he wants to score and I hope I can help him with that again. And then we’ll see – it would be very nice if I could get myself into the Tour de France team because with Alberto Contador we’ve obviously got a really good rider there. If that were possible I would be over the moon but we’ll have to wait and see.
Last question: weirdest thing about being on an American team?
Well I have to say it’s almost not even an American team, it’s very international. I’d like to be able to tell you . . . we had some Americans at the training camp . . . it’s more the language, isn’t it? It throws you off.
How’s your “AWESOME!” coming on?
No. Can’t do it.
Conquista issue 13 - available here.