What's Cool In Road Cycling

Photo Special: CCC-Liv 2020 Team

Photo Special and Interviews: It’s that time of year again and the CCC and the CCC-Liv teams are in Denia for their December training camps and media day. This year the two Polish registered teams were staying in the same hotel, much easier for us journalists. The women were first up and our man in Spain, Alastair Hamilton was there.

The two team leaders – Vos and Van Avermaet

It was a cool morning, but just right for the photos and a short ride for both teams.

The top riders, Marianne Vos and Greg Van Avermaet had a photo shoot together before we could get on with the interviews.

Sofia Bertizzolo was introduced as a new member of the team.

The team was ready for the media.

New team and kit for Bertizzolo

Brand new rider, Sofia Bertizzolo. So what are your hopes for next year? “I really have to prove the next step in my career and I think that this team is the perfect team to do that, also with the experience of two great riders like Marianne and Ashley. I can improve my skills in the Classics. Last year was pretty good, but I hope to be deeper in to the WorldTour classification; top 10 or podium. I have to do a lot of steps in improvement, I look-forward to a good performance next year.”

What’s it like to come to this team? “It’s a big change, also the introduction of the WorldTour teams with the UCI reforms, the calendar will be a little bit different. There are some differences between the categories of the races, so we need to be invited to some smaller races, so the calendar might be different from the past, but being a WorldTour team we know we will be racing in the main races, which is nice to know.”

Pauliena Rooijakkers

What are your hopes for next year, Pauliena? “To have a successful team, like last year. For myself I like the climbing Classics; like San Sebastian and I want to do well in the Giro also, not for the classification, but more for the stages. I have to make a big step to go higher.”

Were you happy with last year? “I think I made quite a step last year and I’m happy with that. I was third in San Sebastian, so I hope to go to a higher level next year.”

Jeanne Korevaar

Jeanne, next season? “I want to make the next step towards the top of women’s cycling. We have a really strong team, so I want to be there in the finals and be able to go for my own chance when there is an opportunity.”

It’s a bigger team now, does that make things easier? “Yes, if you are with a lot of riders at the front it will get easier. Also last year I was riding nearly every race, now we can chose your races more and work towards specific races.”

Do you know your calendar yet? “I still have to discuss, but for sure I want to be there for the spring Classics. hey are very important and I like them.”

What is your favourite race? “I really like the Strade Bianche and Flanders. I once did it (Strade Bianche) in bad weather and once in good weather and I liked them both. With Flanders it’s the atmosphere and the course is really hard. Only the strongest riders will win… I like that kind of race.”

Evy Kuijpers

Hi Evy, we spoke last year, so how did it go? “Last year everything was good for me in the team, we took a step forward and everyone stays with the team and we have four strong new riders. For myself; I’m thinking about the Spring Classics again. Last year was my first time that I did them all.”

Which was your favourite? “Flanders, everyones favourite. Next season I want to make a step forward there and get more into the final and help the others for a good result.”

Having more riders in the team will help. “Sometimes we ride a double program, so you can chose your own program, which is nice. In the bigger races we have Marianne and Ashleigh so we ride for them and in the smaller races we get our own chance and that is also nice.”

Agnieszka Skalniak

Agnieszka, what are you most looking forward to next season? “The Polish national time trial is very important and this is my first year with the Elites and I’d like to do a really good rave in the Europeans. It’s possible that I will do the time trial, but we will see what the national coach says. I want to help the other girls as much as I can.”

You will want to learn as much as possible? “This is my second year with the team and I know thinks better than the last year, so this year will be much better and we have some more new girls and the team will be stronger now.”

What was your best race last year? “I think probably the nationals because I had really good results, but in some other races I had good condition so I had a good day.”

Inge van der Heijden

Hi Inge, what are your plans for 2020? “For me I hope to win the World (cyclocross) championships again and also the nationals.”

What about the team: “I don’t race a lot with the girls, but when I am there I want to help the others as much as possible.”

What would your road season be like? “At the moment I don’t know, we will talk about that after the World cyclocross championships.”

Soraya Paladin

Coming to a new team, does that make you nervous, Soraya? “Well, more excited that nervous and looking forward to race with the girls. There is a really strong team spirit and I think we are a really strong team. I know it will be a really good season for us.”

And what do you want for yourself? “Of course it’s an Olympic year, so for everyone it’s a big goal. I will try to be selected, so I will do my best and we will see. That is my main goal”

What other races will you ride as a build up? “Yes, the first part of the season with the Classic, Flanders and Amstel and then the Giro. Everyone Italian is looking forward to it. Also the national championships this year is on a good course and it is close to my house, near Treviso. Then the Olympics and after, we will see about the Worlds and the Europeans. It’s a long season; first we think about the Classics and then we will see how is my shape and the results, but I think as a team we will achieve good results.”

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio

How was your first year with the team, Ashleigh? “If I have to be totally honest, it has been a challenging season for me, for various reasons. It’s complicated, we always under estimate how a big shift it is when you change from one set up to the next. Especially for me, who had been in one team for quite a few years then make a move, although it’s really exciting and you want to take that new step, and new challenge. For some it’s harder than others to adjust to the changes. For me a lot of things changed, not just the environment but also the bike, shoes, cleats and just about everything. So it took a little bit of time to adjust and be comfortable with all the new stuff. Also moving to a new team, I’m quite an open minded person so I thought; new team, new opportunities and there was some new races, so I thought: ‘Oh well, what’s the harm in trying something new?’ Going to Australia early in the season is not something I had done before, but I thought I would give it a go with my new team. Unfortunately things didn’t turn out the way they should have. I got to Australia and I had really bad allergies, which then led to illness. So a key part of the season, which is January, in terms of building your base, is disrupted by illness. Unfortunately that set back so early in the season really put me back and then I think I didn’t really find a good rhythm or momentum after that. Then there was the crash in Flanders, and then crash in Amstel Gold, and then as I was just getting over that, I got on the podium at the Tour of California, which was really nice and gave me a glimmer of hope again, then I crash in the woman’s Tour just before the Giro.”

“So I had quite a few crashes and back issues as a result, so I never found my real rhythm, although I had little glimmers of hope now and then. The podium in California and a win in Spain and my national championships, but what was reassuring was that the training always went well and I was always getting better numbers. So I still had the confidence that I was still the same cyclist, but just not having the good luck that we need. That’s what makes cycling one of the toughest races in the World. Having said that, I’ve learnt a lot over the season, it’s made me think of certain things that I wouldn’t have before and now I’ve come from a challenging season with a lot of motivation to iron out any of these complexities. I’m here at the training camp in a way better position than I was last year. So I’m feeling really motivated for next year and I have a good feeling.”

Marianne busy with the TV interviews

Are the Olympics the big aim for next year, Ashleigh? “Of course it’s Olympic year and that can make it a complicated year for the trade team, because all the focus can be on the Olympics. In my case the Olympic Games are a goal, for everyone it’s a dream to win an Olympic medal. It’s a little bit more complicated for me coming from south Africa because it’s not the most strongest cycling nation, so the reality is I won’t have a team. We have qualified two spots, so I will have one teammate, but really rely on much support from my teammate, so keeping that in mind it changes my perspective a little bit, although my goal will be to arrive in Tokyo as good as possible. I won’t change my goals and my ambitions with my trade team, my focus will stay with my trade team and that means I will race all the Spring Classics, and I’ll race the Giro d’Italia and that will be a big goal for me next year and I’ll go to Tokyo and do my best.”

“I am a team player and I like being a member of a team, that’s a frustrating part of the big events like the Olympic Games when I don’t have a team. The trade team is your family on the road and you need that support around you, to help and support you.”

What about the course for the Olympics? “We went to Asia in October and I looked at the course with Marianne. It’s an interesting course, it’s a different course to Rio where there was one climb and everyone knew that was where the race would be decided. I can’t say there is one particular point, more a race of attrition. It’s going to be an interesting one, being there with Marianne, I’m more of a climber and exchanging thoughts, it leaves you wondering if ‘is this a climber course, or isn’t it?’ The racing on the day will really tell. The weather, the humidity and there is a lot of altitude metres in one day, but not at one point. There is not one steep point, there are some steep punches and it’s up and down and there is a punch before the finish line. It’s going to be an exciting race.”

Another season Marianne, are the Olympics the big goal for 2020? “The big goal is to be the best of myself, but the main focus will be on the Olympics. But I know I need to be on the top of my game. So I will try to be there and I will have some beautiful Spring Classics on the program and some nice Tours on the program where I will want to do well. But the program is built around the Olympics.”

What do you think of the course? “It’s tough, I think it should suit me, it’s a course you will never get into a rhythm. It’s a bit technical outside of Tokyo, it’s up and down, but generally up and then you have a faster part into Fuji. So it’s a course that should suit me, but there are only four places in the Dutch team, so what I can do is try to be as fit and as good as possible.”

The finish looks hard. “The actual finish is flat. Before that there is a tough corner combination which in the car looks like nothing, but on the bike it’s pretty tough. from the outside it doesn’t look so steep, but especially after a hard race it will be difficult.”

The team were going for a short ride, mostly for the TV and photographers.

Back to the hotel for lunch and coffee. Not forgetting the famous tiramisu.

Coffee time!

CCC-Liv Team 2020:
Sofia Bertizzolo (Italy)
Valerie Demey (Belgium)
Inge van der Heijden (the Netherlands)
Marta Jaskulska (Poland)
Jeanne Korevaar (the Netherlands)
Evy Kuijpers (the Netherlands)
Aurela Nerlo (Poland)
Marta Lach (Poland)
Riejanne Markus (the Netherlands)
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South-Africa)
Soraya Paladin (Italy)
Pauliena Rooijakkers (the Netherlands)
Agnieszka Skalniak (Poland)
Sabrina Stultiens (the Netherlands)
Marianne Vos (the Netherlands).

Interview with the men’s CCC team coming soon.

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