Roman Kreuziger Interview
Team Tinkoff-Saxo’s Roman Kreuziger is tired but happy. It is mid January and it's been a solid day’s work at the most intensive training camp of the year; another day closer to form before his race season begins at the 2014 Tour of Oman next month.
‘The ride this morning included about 2,000m of climbing, which isn’t unusual in Gran Canaria – wherever you ride you face an ascent,’ says the 27-year-old. ‘But look around. The sun always shines here and it’s a beautiful place. If I was training back home in the Czech Republic, I’d be facing walls on the turbo trainer.’
Four-hour mountainous sessions are the daily minimum at the Tinkoff-Saxo camp, based at the stunning Anfi Tauro resort. Over 3,000m of climbing isn’t unusual and things are set to crank up between now and the official camp’s conclusion next Wednesday 22nd January.
It’s a busy time at the training camp for the riders and a really positive atmosphere right throughout the Tinkoff-Saxo team. Alongside getting the miles in, it’s an opportunity to thank the team’s major sponsors – Tinkoff Credit Systems and Saxo Bank – to show off their new Specialized bikes and Sportful kit, and to divulge to the world’s press about their plans for the coming season, and to show off a little of their form. But hard work on and off the bike is something Kreuziger isn’t shy of.
‘The second week sees us practising race simulation situations, so things become even harder,’ he says. ‘Someone will attack, others will follow, and the whole ride becomes that more competitive.’
For a season that for many Tinkoff-Saxo riders didn’t conclude until October with Lombardy and the Tour of Beijing, mimicking race breakaways and sprints in January may seem early. But this is professional cycling at the elite level and with a 10-month calendar and desire to claim victories in the Classics and Grand Tours, Tinkoff-Saxo are leaving nothing to chance. It’s a demanding schedule but one Kreuziger thrives on.
‘For many riders, the training camp is more difficult than training at home because you concentrate on more efforts each and every day. But, for me personally, it doesn’t change a lot because I have to train a lot to perform well. The main differences are that you’re training with the guys, you have a massage every day, and some meetings.’
This morning’s training ride included a stiff climb, touching near 20% at times. Tinkoff-Saxo’s formidable team captain, Alberto Contador, headed the ascent. Behind him followed the team that aims to send the 31-year-old Spaniard to the podium’s peak in Paris come July. About 30m behind Contador sat Kreuziger, showing due respect to his leader but looking strong and focused. Although it’s mid-January, he’s recording some pretty impressive figures in training – and unlike his teammates, he has a further two weeks in Gran Canaria to prepare for his 2014 race opener at the Tour of Oman in February.
‘The rest of the Tinkoff-Saxo team are heading off on Wednesday [22nd January] but I’m here longer,’ says Kreuziger, failing to conceal a wry grin. ‘It’s hard to train outside in the Czech Republic in January; here you can train every day. My wife’s coming over, too. Training every day in this beautiful sunshine will help me reach my targets in 2014.’
Kreuziger sees Oman