Saxo Bank's Nick Nuyens: "I'm starting from zero, albeit with a bag full of experience and maturity."
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saxo Bank's Nick Nuyens: "I'm starting from zero, albeit with a bag full of experience and maturity."

by Jered Gruber at 1:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
30 year old Belgian elated about fresh start with Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank/SunGard team

2010 was a year to be forgotten for Belgium's eternal hope, Nick Nuyens. The rider, who promised much in his early years with QuickStep, left for greener pastures with Cofidis in 2007, then moved on to Rabobank in 2009.

The relationship with Rabobank began with high hopes, especially considering the rider's 2008 season, which included a 2nd place at both the Omloop Het Volk and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, then capped off with a 9th place at the World Championships at the end of the season. Things didn't go according to plan with Rabobank though, and the two parties parted ways at the end of the 2010 campaign.

For 2011, Nuyens will be taking to the cobbled roads of Flanders with Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank team, and the 30 year old admits that he feels new again.

"I feel like a rookie doing his first race," said the reinvigorated Nuyens to Het Laatste Nieuws.

For Nuyens, the rookie feeling is a necessity, as the difficult past two years are something that he wants to put well behind him. As Nuyens points out, he's a rookie with a whole lot of racing under his belt.

"I'm starting from zero, albeit with a bag full of experience and maturity."

With the departure of both Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O'Grady, and Matti Breschel, the possibilities within the Classics team have opened wide, and with the arrival of Nuyens, the team has a great potential leader if he can return to the form of old, which led to victories over a wide range of races, but notably focused over the cobbles of Belgium.

"Everyone agrees that I am the outspoken leader in the spring. Bjarne Riis wants me at my best in the big Classics."

Heading to a new team with high hopes is not altogether new for Nuyens, the same was true with his signings at both Cofidis and Rabobank. For Nuyens though, he feels it's different with Riis, and it appears that Riis is already working his magic with the Belgian.

"The team has great confidence in me, and it has been a long time since I've had that. It was high time to breathe in some fresh air. I did not realize that I was deeply unhappy."

Aside from his difficulties with Rabobank and his woeful season, the other big news for Nuyens was the soap opera that developed between him and his erstwhile training partner and friend, Björn Leukemans. Following the Belgian Championships, the moody Leukemans cut off contact with Nuyens, due to a disagreement they had in a break where Nuyens did not want to work.

"Previously, it was said to be a quality of mine that I could read a race well. Now that I do win as much, suddenly it's a defect. Sorry, but I feel some breakaways don't have a chance. Do I have to go ahead blindly?"

Nuyens has no ill will toward Leukemans though.

"Are all the wrinkles ironed out? Yes. My door is open, but it is not for me to take the first step. Björn broke off all contact since the Belgian Championships. What he accused me of was based on some misunderstandings. It's too bad, because this I take as part of my tabula rasa."

The rider, who will become a father for the third time in July according to Sporza, has some simple goals for 2011. If he can manage them though, it will be a great season for both Nuyens and his Saxo Bank team.

"In 2011, I mainly want to have fun and finally reel in a big result."


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