How did you deal with combing your last months in high school and your transition to the U23 ranks?
To be honest, finding the right balance between studying and racing/training was quite hard, above all at the beginning. But a few weeks in I felt more familiar with the whole schedule, so I can do both without problem. I felt always helped and understood by Dries Hollanders (Academy’s Performance Coach), with whom I had a great communication and we found a way to combine both.
Yes, the adaptation process to the new category went really good. I have been able to learn a lot, and I’ll keep on doing it, but from the first race I lineup I was able to go on the attack and to help my teammates in the closing part of the races. But indeed, the crash in the Giro was a hard hit for me as I was really looking forward to the race, and even that at the moment it is hard to realize it that made me nothing but stronger, above all mentally wise. Everyone involved worked really hard in my recovery, and even though that we had some setbacks like being hit by a car in France while I was on a training camp on my own, we got it right and I could get to the Tour de l’Avenir with really good legs.
Then, a selection for the biggest U23 race comes along. How did you live the day-to-day of a race such as l’Avenir?
It was quite a journey, to be honest. The Tour de l’Avenir started in a really hectic way in Bretagne, with a lot of nerves and sprints which causes many high-speed crashes. In the third day, I was in the break with my teammates Tiago Antunes and Edoardo Affini and we made it to the finish, in which I took third and was the first sign that everything was going well for me. Then the confirmation came in the TTT, where we placed fourth but again I felt quite good, so I was really looking forward to the mountains, and after finishing the first mountains stage in third overall, it was just a matter of playing it smart. Then again the last day was really exciting and after going flat out in the last climb I could maintain my GC spot. I knew that I had the power in the climbs, so I really wanted to put it into practice. Coming home with second overall it is just amazing.
I want to finish the season strong, and together with the Academy’s Performance Staff, we are already working towards the U23 World Championships in Austria, which is yet another great goal to have. After that, I will switch to cyclocross and prepare for the season with high hopes. The next steps are really exciting for me, so I can’t wait to keep going.