Nick Nuyens: “This is a monument so there’s quite a difference!”
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Nick Nuyens: “This is a monument so there’s quite a difference!”

by Ben Atkins at 7:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
Ronde Van Vlaanderen winner now targeting Amstel Gold

nick nuyensSaxo Bank-SunGard’s Nick Nuyens had already won a number of semi-classics before yesterday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, including the Omloop Het Volk (now Het Nieuwsblad) and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne; until yesterday though, he had not managed to take one of the sport’s biggest races; one of the monuments of the sport.

“It’s a big difference!” he laughed to the media after his victory. “I think the semi-classics are really important, maybe more for Belgium, but still if you ask any classics rider if they’d like to win Dwars door Vlaanderen, or E3, or Gent-Wevelgem, they won’t say no. But this is a top classic, a monument, so it’s quite a difference.”

The race itself went far from like clockwork for Nuyens, as the Ronde seldom does for anybody. It was his tenacity, and refusal to let all the little setbacks over the 260km get to him though, that really made the race work for him in the end.

“Never give up are the key words for this I think,” he explained, “because at one moment I was really far [from the front] on the Kwaremont. Maybe I was lucky because after [Stijn] Devolder had some bad luck, so he was chasing after the Paterberg.  I had some teammates that were chasing too, and I think we almost made it up on the Koppenberg and then we finally made it [into the peloton] again.”

Nuyens comes into the 2011 season after two pretty miserable years at Rabobank, which he only has his third GP Wallonie and a stage of the Österreich-Rundfahrt to show for. The move to Saxo Bank-SunGard seems to have revived the Nick Nuyens of old though, who left the Quick Step team in 2008 as a potential rival to then teammate Tom Boonen.

“Actually it’s difficult to explain,” he said of the difference experienced with his new team, “but from the moment [team manager Bjarne] Riis contacted my manager, he immediately said that he wanted to work with me. There was no discussion about money or anything else, it was like: ‘he’s a good rider, he’s won some semi-classics but I think he can do more,’ and when a man like Bjarne talks like that it gives you immediately a lot of confidence.

“Then also when we started to work on the training camp,” he explained. “Just small things, small words, that help you to have more confidence. Also the rest of the team was helping me out this way.

“So it’s difficult to explain what it is exactly, but I also changed a little bit my way of training; I was in other countries a lot, for the good weather, because I know my body reacts good under the sun, and you know to stay on the right weight.”

A change of programme from previous years, with a later start has made a difference for Nuyens, who was able to avoid the bad Belgian weather of February and delay his peak in form until the right moment.

“Also, we didn’t do the opening weekend [of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne],” he said, “to be sure that I was ready and, I don’t know how to say it, just a little extra you need to be ready for this period, for these classics. Maybe you can compare it like a little child who wants to have an ice cream and he’s looking forward to get it; for me it was actually the same. I was looking forward to start the races in Belgium again; and that’s maybe the little extra I needed.

“I like ice cream a lot!” he laughed.

Having already won the Dwars door Vlaanderen ten days ago Nuyens is at the peak of his form, which he may not be able to hold for too much longer. There are more targets for April for the 30-year-old though, but not the one usually associated with the winner of the Ronde.

“I don’t know, actually I don’t want to think about it right now!” he laughed over the question of how long his form could last. “But next weekend I’m going to train in Spain, and the Clásica Primavera, to prepare for the Amstel Gold Race.

“So I’m not doing Paris-Roubaix,” he explained. “I don’t have the greatest experience with that race; also when it’s good weather – I’m really allergic to dust – and when it’s good weather you have a lot of it there. And I like the Amstel Gold Race more; I think it suits me better, and when you like the race it’s easier to do a result.”

Whatever he does at Amstel though, with Sunday’s victory Nick Nuyens’ season – some might even say his career – has been made.


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