28/03/2017, CANYON Nils Politt
"every Classic is a battle"
Nils Politt is a constant feature at the front of the peloton in all the biggest one-day classics. In only his second season in the UCI WorldTour, it takes more than talent to mix it at the front. Now 23, Nils has been putting in the hours day after day, for years on end to make it to this point. A future protagonist for Patis-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders, he is proof that success only comes to those who commit.
What makes the cobbled classics so unique?
Nils: The character of these races is so compelling. Often it's cold and raining, or really windy, but that simply doesn't bother me. I like aggressiveracing from the front and not sitting back and waiting for a bunch sprint. There's always a point when you look around and realise that everyone is at their limit. You have to fight one Berg at a time and more people drop off as you go. This is what the classics are about for me, a race of attrition every time.
What do you feel approaching race day, excitement or nerves?
Nils: Every time you line up, you have to have respect for the race. Crashes will happen, but you can't let that affect, otherwise you've already lost. It's a battle.
What was it like last year at the Tour of Flanders riding over the Kwaremont alongside riders like Boonen and Cancellara?
Nils: Sitting in the bus going to the sign-on, I already had goosebumps, but to be at the front after 200 km riding in the front group up the Kwaremont with thousands of fans shouting in your ears so loud you can no longer hear your DS, that's something else. I won't ever forget that.
Which race is your favourite?
Nils: For me it will always be the big two, Flanders and Roubaix. They're both so brutal in different ways. At Flanders, you notice the crowds a lot more, the hills are obviously hard, but you have time in between each one to recover. Approaching every pavé sector at Roubaix is a full effort sprint and the fight for each position is incredibly hard. You have to hold high watts for extended periods, which is much more my kind of race.
What did you learn after your first classics campaign last season?
Nils: Positioning. Approaching key sections I was often too far back. If you try to ride in the gutter to save energy, suddenly 50 riders have passed by. You need experience for these races, and I still need a couple more years to reach that level before I can really make an impact.
Which of your teammates has the best knowledge of these races?
Nils: We have a lot of classics specialists who I can learn from, guys like Alexander Kristof and Marco Haller. On recon rides before each race the DS will always tell us where and when we need to be up at the front. I also like to watch previous editions on YouTube so that I can really get in the zone for each race.
Nils: Every bike has its own character, but I love the Aeroad because it just feels so damn fast all the time. Also with the Speedmax it really feels like we have an advantage with that bike over other teams and their TT setups.