Photographed by Emily Maye, Words by Jasper Stuyven. The fourth in a series about Jasper.
U23 vs. Pro
The peloton controls the race more. In U23, riders start attacking right away, but in the Pro races the first hour is simply a hard tempo, then the final sections are very hard. The finale of a Pro race is harder and goes for longer than an entire U23 race. You also have more time to get bottles and take a pee break in the Pro race because it's more controlled.
The race organizers don’t put us in the same hotels most of the time as the World Tour teams. That makes sense because we aren’t Pro Tour but it also feels like you aren’t as important. It’s nice when you get to be in the same hotel and get a better look at what your future will be like.
The Other Teams
I look around at the other teams sometimes and see where I would like to ride. I look to see if they seem like they are having fun, and I look to see if are they all wear the same stuff. That’s a sign they act professionally.
Stage Races vs. Classics
It’s hard that as a Classics guy there is never a stage suited to you in a stage race. It will always be a sprint stage or a climbing stage, never that mix of short hills and cobbles. It makes a stage race harder for me, or at least a little less interesting.
But would I want a week long classics style stage race? No, no, no, one day is just fine.
The Cross Winds
We missed the jump in the cross winds into Avila Beach and we went to the front to try to chase it down. Chavanel came to the front and helped chase with us and it was interesting to be along side of him and see what he could do. Guys like that, when they ride the front, they ride it hard. They hit the front harder and longer than you and that’s when you realize that you’re still young and it’s going to take years and years to be that strong.
You realize that not until 27 & 28 will you be at your strongest. Not everyone can be Sagan.
On the other hand, you expect someone like Chavanel to make that lead group rather than being behind, chasing, so you also learn from that. Sometimes you make mistakes, even at that level. I learned two things that day.
I think the thing that affected my Pro Tour offers the most is that when I say I want to be good, I’m good. It’s how you race. Riding a race like California the teams get a chance to see how I race and what I would be like in the Pro Tour. It also helped that I was World Champion and that I won Roubaix as a World Champion. That’s what people remember. They don’t know that I was 3rd another year. I was only the 3rd guy able to podium two years in a row.
Only winning counts, they don’t remember anything else.1