27-06-2016, PROSPORTS Five Canyon Athletes talk Tour de France
"It's Pure Madness!"
The 103rd Edition of the world's biggest bike race hits the road this weekend. To get in the zone for the Tour de France, we talked to five Canyon riders across a range of disciplines to get their inside view on the race.
1) What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Tour de France?
Mieke Kröger // CANYON//SRAM Racing: I think back to my childhood when my dad would watch the race on TV. I didn’t understand the sport at all back then so for me it was all quite boring. Now I’m the one who turns the TV on and stays glued in front of the screen.
Marco Haller // Team Katusha: There are just so many emotions! Growing up, watching the Tour every summer was more important to me than playing football or going to the pool with my friends. When I think back to my Tour debut last year I still get goose bumps. The atmosphere in France is awesome, people really respect the race and the performances, that’s something you don’t get in Austria.
Rory Sutherland // Movistar Team: I believe everyone thinks the same about the TDF. It's a dream, but the hardest dream you can be part of. It is certainly the biggest race in the world, with the most fans and the hardest competition. As a race, it can make or break your future.
Nils Frommhold // Canyon Triathlon: I remember watching great battles over the years in the Alps and the Pyrenees. Honestly though, for me the Tour is about watching TV for three weeks solid. There’s nothing better than coming back from training, putting the race on and relaxing while others do the hard work.
Rob-J // Canyon MTB-Hero: It’s pure madness! What those guys put themselves through is unbelievable, both mentally and physically. Add to that all the pressure from the media, the industry, all the fans, I don’t know how they manage it for three whole weeks!
2) What’s the atmosphere like when you’re there?
Mieke Kröger: I’ve never actually seen a stage live, but it’s on my bucket list to go watch the race on Mont Ventoux someday. That or Alpe d’Huez, there’s just so much history surrounding those climbs.
Marco Haller: I’ve never been there as a fan but I got to compete there last year and I’m super happy that I get to ride it again this year. It's unlike any other race on the planet.
Rory Sutherland: I've raced the Giro and the Vuelta and most of the big classics but I've never actually done the Tour. I think watching one of the big mountain stages would be an incredible experience, it would have to be Ventoux or Alpe d'Huez.
Nils Frommhold: I’ve seen it once. Back in 2004 me and my friend randomly decided to drive all the way from Berlin to go watch the time trial up Alpe d’Huez. The atmosphere was unreal, I didn’t think you could get so many people up on the mountain.
Rob-J: I’ve never been to see it, but it’s definitely on my to-do list!
3) What are the mountains like to ride?
Mieke Kröger: When I was still new to the sport, my club organised a training camp in the Vosges. It was a real shock as it was the first time I had ridden proper mountains like the Col de la Schlucht, Petit Ballon, Grand Ballon and so many others. At the top of every climb there was always a coke waiting. I definitely want to try Ventoux soon to see if it’s as hard as everyone says it is. The same goes for Alpe d’Huez, every cyclist has to have counted down those hairpins at some point in their lives.
Marco Haller: Last year I had to fight through the Alps and the Pyrenees and they were both very, very painful. Alpe d‘Huez was the most memorable for me; maybe it was the atmosphere from the huge crowds or simply its mystique. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that it was the last climb in the race and we flew straight to Paris afterwards!
Rory Sutherland: I've done a lot of riding and racing in France and I’d say that the climbs in the Pyrenees are definitely the hardest. They are steeper, longer, higher and generally harder than what you get in the Alps.
Nils Frommhold: The only time I’ve ever ridden there was back in 2004. We borrowed bikes from someone at the campsite and we set off in baggy shorts and trainers. It took hours to get to the top and we ended up descending back in the dark.
Rob-J: Two years ago me and a friend rode from Les Deux alpes to Alpe D’Huez and back. It was such an awesome ride and really cool to ride part of the Tour route that year.
4) Who are you backing to win the race this year?
Mieke Kröger: That’s tough to say, but I’m expecting a big battle between Chris Froome, Alberto Contador und Nairo Quintana.
Marco Haller: It’s never easy to predict, but if Froome rides the way he did at the Dauphiné and has guys like Geraint Thomas riding for him then he’ll be hard to beat. But you never know Porte, Contador and French riders like Pinot and Bardet will put in a big fight this year. With Katusha we are hoping to surprise a few people and go for stage wins with our leaders, Kristoff and Rodríguez.
Rory Sutherland: I might be biased, but of course I think and hope my team mate Quintana will and can win this year!
Nils Frommhold: I don’t want to make any predictions yet. I just hope that the race stays open and exciting for as long as possible and we don’t find out the winner till right at the end. Nairo is up there as one of my favourites though!
Rob-J: Nairo seems to be on a roll this year, I think he’ll shape the race.