Nick Nuyens (Rabobank) has won some important races in his career, including tomorrow’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but he’s not quite broken through to the big-time in the major spring classics.
Second in the 2008 Tour of Flanders, Nuyens wasn’t quite at his best in 2009 after falling ill in February that left him just off his top form for April’s most important events.
At 29 and in his second season at Rabobank, the Belgian son of a diamond broker is quietly hoping for a big spring campaign. VeloNews caught up with Nuyens to talk classics:
VeloNews: How has your preparation been going into this year’s spring classics season?
Nick Nuyens: It’s actually perfect this year. I can do what I want to do. This year I’ve done more than usual. Last year I got sick in a bad moment and I could never catch up later. Some say it’s a good thing to train in bad weather for the classics, but I prefer to train in good weather. I live in Belgium, so I am kind of used to it. It’s been awful the past two months. It’s been freezing more or less 30 days in Belgium, but it’s least it’s been dry. You can dress against the cold. I’ve been looking for the good weather in Spain in December and in January, with the team or by myself. It’s better to be in good weather if it’s possible. We were training in Benidorm, always 14-15 degrees, it’s a big difference.
VN: When did you get sick last year and how did it affect you?
NN: I got sick in Ruta del Sol. I had three or four days with 39C (102.2F) fever; it was just shit. Also, the birth of my son was also a big change in my life, a nice change, but you have to get used to it. Now I am used to everything, and I haven’t gotten sick this year, so hopefully everything will be good this year. Hopefully I can have a good year again.
VN: So last year you were just missing that extra and not quite at your best, with 15th at Flanders and 8th at Amstel Gold?
NN: Last year in the classics, I was not bad, because I was always there, but I couldn’t do anything, I could only just follow. When that’s all you can do, you’re not going to win anything. It was a pity last year, because I am used to doing more during the race. Last year, it was just follow, follow, follow, and hoping they were not going too fast.
VN: How did you deal with the pressure in your first year at Rabobank as a big leader for classics and not being to perform as you hoped?
NN: It was frustrating, but the team also knew I was sick. You cannot change it, you just have to accept it, but it was still shit. On the other hand, the team saw that I was there, and I just missed a few percentage, and they knew the reason. It was shit, but not for fault of mine. We were on the same line, the team and I, we understood the situation. That was also good, because there was a misunderstanding, you can have a real problems.
VN: You’ve been close to winning Flanders, do you hope this is your year?
NN: I have to keep trying, eh? Like I said, I am always there, but there is only one rider who can win, and there are not so many opportunities if you go for the big, big classics. I have two big chances, that’s Flanders and Amstel Gold Race. If you count everyone who wants to win, you count 20-30 riders who are capable of doing it. There are many riders who will be disappointed afterwards. Hopefully, this year or one of the coming years, I am one of the lucky guys.
VN: Those classics with more hills suit you more than the pure cobblestones at Roubaix?
NN: Last year, I tried the first the combination of Flanders and Amstel. I liked it very much. Also, for the team, it’s very important. It’s a nice classic, so why not? It’s not only those two races that count. Starting with Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and then all the other races in the spring. They’re not as big as Flanders, but if you can win one of those races, it’s also important and it also counts.
VN: Rabobank has lost Flecha, how will that affect the classics team?
NN: We lost Flecha and we lost Hayman, two really strong guys. OK, the situation now we have to accept, but we have Lars Boom this year, and other guys who getting one year stronger. That’s nice, we have a young team, we have a lot of potential for the coming years. With people like me, Tjallingii, Tamkink, we have experience. There’s no need to look back. It was nice racing with Flecha and Hayman, now we have to race against them because they’re on another team. That’s professional racing.
VN: It was pointed out that last year you were riding with a block of wood under your saddle, why were you do that?
NN: I don’t do it now because I have another carbon saddle. Last year, the saddle was slumping when it got wet, and it changed a little bit in my position. Some riders feel it, some others don’t. I’ve been searching for a good saddle and I’ve found it with a carbon saddle (Selle Italia). I didn’t want to change the saddle during the most important period of the season. Later, I changed it, it was better, but I was not satisfied 100 percent. During the winter I was searching for another one. Finally I found one. If you look at it, you might think it’s not good to be on the saddle for six hours on the cobbles, but it feels good. Stef Clement also has one, and he said, just try it and you’ll see. Now more and more riders want to try it.