Andy Fenn, the other Brit in the Omega Pharma-QuickStep line up, is to ride Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne after a strong early season showing in the Tour Down Under and Qatar
Do you get especially nervous for the first race of the season, wondering how well the training has actually gone?
“I was talking to (Mark) Renshaw before the start of the Peoples’ Choice criterium and he was telling me that this was the only race he got nervous for,” (laughing) I was nervous as well, you always are in your first race of the season, your first time back in the peloton, because you’re not sure where you stand and how well your training has really gone till you race.
“It’s good that the Down Under is a stage race, that helps everyone bed in because after a few days the race settles into a pattern and people are less anxious than they are in a one day race. I came away happy with my condition, it meant the work I had been doing in the winter had paid off. The race has changed in recent years too, it’s now hillier, more of a race for a rider like (Simon) Gerrans or (Diego) Ulissi, which also means you get a good chance to test your form on those stages too.”
It went well because you then went to Qatar with the Classics team where you got fourth in a stage and Tom Boonen complemented your lead out work.
“Yes, I was pleased. I had put my name forward to go there when we were discussing the race programme for the year, so the team knew I wanted to ride it rather than Trofeo Mallorca. I wanted to ride with the Classics team, to try to prove myself to those guys, it was a little bit of a test and I thought I could perform better there too.”
The Omega Pharma team dominated the race. Niki Terpstra led it from start to finish, the team won three stages took the overall classification and the team prize. You were ninth overall as well.
“Yes, it was a real good all-round performance. On the stage I helped Tom it had been a hard day and there were maybe only 40 or fifty riders left in the front, so it wasn’t quite a big bunch sprint, but Orica and Lotto were trying to organise their sprints.
“I managed to get Tom (Boonen) onto Andrei Greipel’s wheel just before the sprint and Tom won. Overall I’ve been pleased this season with the work I’ve been able to do, when I’m given a role during a stage I’ve fulfilled it.”
You obviously rode well enough because you’re down to ride Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
“Yes, when I came back I had a couple of days off then I had a couple of big training blocks and now I’m about to head up to Belgium for the weekend. I’m not riding Het Nieuwsblad – well, that’s not the plan at the moment – but I’m riding Kuurne the next day and then staying up to race in some smaller events in West Flanders.
“After that, the plans aren’t sorted yet, but I’m pleased to be riding with the Classics team, I can learn a lot from those guys.”