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“I think for the upcoming Tour I would say Astana,” Fuglsang answered a question about the strongest team in the coming edition of the Tour the France

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA QAZAQSTAN TEAM

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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30.12.2013 @ 17:45 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Even though Jakob Fuglsang hasn’t managed to claim a single victory in 2013, apart from surprising Team Time Trial won by Astana in Vuelta a Espana, it was so far the best year for the 28-year old Dane in his professional career, since he was finally released from playing the supporting role and was handed an opportunity to prove his capability to lead a strong team in a race on a Grand Tour level. In the exclusive interview for Cyclingnews.com, Fuglsang reflects on his previous season and plans for the coming year, including his small objectives for build-up part of the season, rivalry between Astana and Sky Procycling for Tour the France crown and stepping down to assist Nibali as an uncontested leader of Kazakh team.

 

28-year old Dane admits, that although he missed this season several opportunities to claim stage victories, especially at the Dauphine, he still evaluates passing year as the best in his professional career to date, as he finally received an chance to prove himself as a capable contender for overall classifications in Grand Tours. Riding for RadioShack and Saxo-Tinkoff in previous seasons, he was never provided with a similar opportunities and, being the only Danish cyclist with overall successes in stage races, still was forced to face a wave of criticism in his home country.

 

“It was a good year for me. Personally I would say that it was my best so far. I didn’t win as much as in other years, in the end I only won a TTT with the team in the Vuelta, but it was definitely a good year,” Fuglsang told in an exclusive interview for Cyclingnews.com

 

“There was that stage and then another in the Dauphine when I was beaten by Sanchez. One of them at least I would have liked to have changed for a victory.”

 

“For sure in Denmark where there are a lot of people that I proved were wrong.”

 

“I think some felt that I was a spoilt little kid who was riding on big teams. They didn’t see where my results were. I think I had some big results. Maybe I don’t have many big stage victories but I’m the only Danish rider wining stage races, smaller ones but still….I think I deserve a little trust and credit.”

 

Danish rider admits, that referring to his leadership role in 100th Tour de France edition he has set himself attainable goals – which were staying with major GC contenders throughout whole three weeks, resulted finishing the race in the top 10, and reaching them provided him with a great satisfaction and huge amount of motivation for the coming year.

 

However it seems natural for the rider of his class to seek an improvement on such results in the next appearance, Fuglsang praises Nibali as a stronger rider and unquestionable Astana leader.

 

28-year old Dane also reveals, that he has some minor goals for the first part of the season – mainly concerning putting some efforts into becoming more capable of taking stage wins, as he still hopes to get a chance to play his own cards during La Grande Boucle, should everything go strictly according to the plan.

 

“My goal was top ten going into the Tour. I believed that it was possible. It might be that I have to be in a breakaway that rides away with ten minutes but in the end that wasn’t the case. I was strong enough to stay with the top ten guys and my position was pretty much a sign of where I was in terms of the Tour. So I was happy with the results and happy that I proved to myself, because it gave me a lot of confidence and morale for the future.”

 

“The plan is that I do the Tour again but in the service of Vincenzo. I’ll build up for the first part of the season with a focus in the first part of the season on winning stages. So not so much about top fives overall but going for stage wins instead. That will make me improve as a rider and bring me forward. If I could have one, one of the big chances I had at the Tour or Dauphine that would have been nice, but in the last five years I’ve been chasing overall places. So for half a season at least I’ll try and learn to win stages.”

 

“I have to help Vincenzo in the Tour but I also hope that if the team is good, if he’s good and everything comes together then I can also try and do GC in the Tour but of course the main goal is to help Vincenzo. I will support him 100 percent and I know that if we want to beat Sky we need to come with the best team we can. They’ve selected me for that and I’m ready to be there to help.”

 

“I knew it was a big chance to do the Tour this year. I didn’t expect that to carry on year after year. Vincenzo won the Giro and he also has to move on. From the results it’s clear that he’s a stronger rider, and to try and win and beat Froome, Sky, whoever, we need to be there with the strongest team and ride for the strongest rider.”

 

Being questioned about the unavoidable battle between Team Astana and Sky Procycling for Tour the France overall victory, Fuglsang pointed out to many factors that could be decisive, including the strongest riders of the Kazakh team being prepared exclusively for the French Grand Tour race.

 

“Of course if I could select whatever I wanted then maybe I would chose the Giro as the captain and try and go for a top five or top three and then go and help in the Tour. But the team want me 100 percent for the Tour and I understand them. I’m good with that and for me it’s also the right thing to do.”

 

“I won't say the Tour is harder than the Giro but for me it wasn’t easy to be 100 percent in one race and then come to a second Grand Tour right after and perform there. In that sense I would say we’re in a better situation than Sky but let's see when we get there.”

 

Danish rider admitted, that in his own recognition Astana should turn out to be the stronger unit in the coming edition of the tour de France.

 

“I think for the upcoming Tour I would say Astana,” Fuglsang answered a question about the strongest team in the French three-week event next season, pointing out to very particular factors:

“Our captain Vincenzo, the stages with the cobbles, not so many TT kilometres, and no team time trial. We won the TTT in the Vuelta and they won it in the Giro but all in all I think we have the stronger team. If they split up the team, like they did this year, we saw there were days when things fell apart and they’re not unbeatable.”

 

While Schleck brothers, with whom Fuglsang rode in his previous teams Saxo-Tinkoff and Radioshack, are announcing their grand come back every single week, Dane was asked about their capability to perform again at the top level.

 

“For Andy there’s still a good piece of the way to go. He was in the Tour last year and couldn’t live up to the expectations. It’s going to be difficult for him this year but that talent doesn’t just go away. For sure he has to work to harder than he did last year. With Frank back it might change something and it might give him motivation. Frank will be ready. The question is whether he can keep it going since he’s been training all year. He’ll be motivated to start well in Australia.”

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