Tour de Suisse one of big debut season races for Chris Juul Jensen
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tour de Suisse one of big debut season races for Chris Juul Jensen

by Shane Stokes at 7:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Danish rider looking forward to turning pro with Saxo Bank team

Having spent time with his new Saxo Bank team-mates at the recent team camp in Israel, neo-pro Chris Juul Jensen has outlined his targets for his first season with the team. The 22 year old is one of several new signings for the squad and explains he wants to take things gradually in what is a big step up to a new level.

“The plan is that I'm to try a little bit of this and that without getting knocked out in the Grand Tours,” he stated. “I think this is the perfect way of getting started and it will provide me with a lot of experience about which races suit me in the years to come.

“I'm looking forward to trying out Haut Var and Mallorca Challenge and the plan is that I'm to do Tour of Swiss as well which is kind of huge for a guy like me. I aim to show myself and the team that I can cope with the challenges, and more importantly that I'm there for my teammates when I'm needed.”

Juul Jensen’s two year deal was announced by the team back in August, and rewarded him after a long time pushing for a place on the team. His previous Glud & Marstrand – LRØ team has close links to Saxo Bank SunGard, and he was invited as a guest on three training camps, most recently in July in the French Alps.

He was offered a stagiaire position with Leopard Trek but – wisely as it turned out – passed that over in the hope of landing a full deal with Saxo Bank SunGard. The Leopard Trek squad took many riders from RadioShack on board, squeezing others out.

Juul Jensen is still very young but showed signs of his ability when in 2009, having just turned twenty years of age, he finished an unexpected seventeenth overall in the Tour of Denmark. In 2010 he was eighth overall in the espoir Liège-Bastogne-Liège and sixth in the Ville Saguenay Coupe des Nations event in Canada. He was also second on a stage of the latter.

He returned to the same race this year and confirmed his progression when he triumphed overall. He was also third on a stage and eighth overall in the Tour de l’Avenir.

Irish origin, Danish destination:

A former member of the Irish youth team, he lived in Ireland with his parents until 2006 and then relocated to Denmark. He declared for that country and has continued to progress since then. Juul Jensen gives credit to both the previous Danish champion Michael Guldhammer and also the Glud & Marstrand LRØ team in his development. He explained that he believed that those in charge of the latter, Michael and Christa Skelde, “built the perfect structure for me to develop at the right pace.”

Avoiding Grand Tours in 2012 appears to be a solid tactic for one who won’t turn 23 until July, although the team will have the option of putting him into the Vuelta a España if he is showing spectacular form. What’s more likely is that it will let him progress gradually, realising that the best tactic is to allow his ability to progress steadily.

Team owner Bjarne Riis regards him as a big talent for the future. “We have closely monitored his development and his results, and I see him as one of the greatest prospects in Danish cycling,” he said when announcing his contract. “He is still young, but at the same time he has the right attitude and is very professional.”

Jensen is determined to show that he can perform to expectations. “I know there's a lot of hard work waiting, but I'm ready for that,” he said, thinking ahead to his race programme, races like the Tour de Suisse and to many tough kilometres as he adjusts to the pro level.

“Obviously the first step is to get to know my team mates and prove to them, that they can rely on my work. Then, just continue my development as a rider.”

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