Kessiakoff on right track again after ‘so-so’ winter; top fifteen in Vuelta is possible goal
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kessiakoff on right track again after ‘so-so’ winter; top fifteen in Vuelta is possible goal

by Shane Stokes at 5:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Vuelta a España stage winner likes the look of Tour de France time trial

Fredrik KessiakoffSwedish time trialist Fredrik Kessiakoff had a breakthrough season in 2012, winning time trial stages in the Tour de Suisse and the Vuelta a España. The 32 year old Astana rider is now aiming to step things up again in the new season, his targets being reaching strong form for the Giro d’Italia and then chasing TT success in either the Tour de France or the Vuelta.

“My main target is to stay healthy, but in terms of a race schedule, we have a goal for me to do the Giro,” he told VeloNation this week. “We have said that for the past three years now without me finally doing it. I would like to say the race it is a goal, but it’s no certainty. It depends on how my allergy problems are during the build up.

“I will do Andalucia, Almeria, Friuli, Camaiore, Lazio, Strade Bianche, Tirreno and Romandie. After that we will see for the Giro. I do however know my strongest period is in the second part of the season, but we will plan that later. The Giro is the team’s big goal of the season and we really want to win it with Nibali.”

In terms of personal ambitions, he sees the period after that as potentially presenting some opportunities to him. “From last year I see mountain ITTs as a possibility to aim for stage victories. I know there is a good ITT for me in the Giro and one at the Tour, but I also need to be in shape before that and get selected by the team,” he said.

“A top 15 overall at the Vuelta could also be a goal if I come out fresh from the rest of the season. At last year’s Vuelta, I was too tired after the Tour.”

Scanning over his 2012 results, there are some standouts. Those time trial victories in the Tour de Suisse and Vuelta a España are the most notable, of course, but he also wore the mountains jersey for a considerable length of time in the Tour and was runner-up in that competition, plus was fifth in the world time trial championships in September.

He also rode well in single day road races, netting second in the Giro dell’Emilia, third in Milan-Torino and tenth in the season-ending Il Lombardia.

Despite it being the best year of his career, though, he surprisingly seems a little lukewarm about 2012 as a whole. “I have very mixed feelings from the season,” he admitted. “I started really bad and got diagnosed with asthma and allergies. On one hand it was good to find out the source to my problems, but on the other hand it was very frustrating, having trained that hard during the winter and spring and get no results for it in that period. At times I could hardly get out of bed.

“Knowing myself, though, after my biggest disappointments and failures I always build up an urge for revenge. The TT victories at the Tour de Suisse and Vuelta Espana are results of that. I am of course also very happy with the seven days in the Polka Dot jersey and the second place overall in the Tour de France mountain classification.”

Knowing now about those allergies, he could be facing up to his best year yet. He’s had some disruptions in his preparation, but seems satisfied that things are picking up now.

“The winter has been so-so,” he said. “I trained well until and during the December training camp with the team, but after we came back from Kazakstan I got sick and had to rest for almost a week. That has set me back, but I am now on the right track again and I will now go to the next training camp.”

A modified race schedule will help him to continue to build steadily. “I was originally set to ride in Argentina, but the season debut has been postponed to Andalucia. That suits me better, starting later and having less stress.” It’s also good for his goal to be strong late in 2013. “Last year’s season was long for me, so I am happy with that.”

Kessiakoff has competed for a number of teams over the course of his career, with mountain bike racing being his priority until 2009, when he signed a contract with Fuji Servetto. He spent a year with Garmin Transitions in 2010, then has been with Astana since 2011.

That’s worked out well for him and he feels increasingly settled with the Kazakhstan squad. “There is a very good spirit in the team and even if we have a lot of new team members, I feel we already are united. We all come from different parts of the world and sometimes we don't understand what the other is trying to say, but there is always another team-mate there to help you translate.

“It was a good bonding experience for the group to go to Kazakstan together,” he continued, speaking about the way the ongoing and new team-members got to know each other.

Amongst the newcomers are strong riders Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the Vuelta a España in 2010 and third in last year’s Tour, plus multiple Tour of Denmark victor Jakob Fuglsand.

Kessiakoff is pleased both are on board. “I am very happy to be teaming up with Jakob again, being able to speak "Scandinavian" to someone,” he said. “I know Jakob and also Vincenzo will bring great results to the team.”

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