Welcome to my first blog for Cyclingnews. After the year I've had, I'm hoping to keep you guys up to date with another exciting season in 2010. We're already racing towards racing again and, to be honest, it hasn't really stopped for me. I finished with my major races on the road and went straight to the Six-day's of Amsterdam, but there has been some time to relax in the past few weeks.
I was lucky enough to have ten days vacation in Curaçao with a lot of the other guys from the peloton. We were all there for the Amstel Curaçao race, but it was just a really good chance to relax after a long season. I managed to get a win over Johnny Hoogerland in a warm-up criterium, but that was more fun than anything else.
Johnny and I have known each other for years. We came up through the junior ranks in the Netherlands together and rode on the same team at Eurogifts.com for a couple of seasons. The Netherlands is a small country, so most of we professionals get to know each other pretty well as juniors.
Johnny's had a good year this year and so have I, my best ever in fact. I had a lot of injury problems after my crash at the Tour de France, but I'd won five races in the first part of the season, so overall I'm pretty pleased. At the Tour I struggled a lot and was fighting with myself to finish inside the time limit each day. On the plus side, there are a lot of people in Holland who only watch the Tour and most of them now know me because of the Tour. I would have preferred it that they'd got to know me as a Tour de France stage winner, but it's good to get the recognition anyway.
A few of weeks ago my private sponsors put on a fan day for me. It was the first time I've had one and we had about 100 people come along to go for a ride and do a riding clinic on the road. I told the story of how I'd become a professional, starting from when I was six years old all the way up to my time at the Tour de France and the time since. We had a lot of fun and it was a really good day. Everyone was very positive, so we're hoping that next year it'll be even bigger.
But before then there's another season to race. I got back into the gym last week and the first three weeks will all be power training there. It's pretty hard, although it's necessary and it will pay off later. In a couple of weeks I'm heading to Majorca to do some base training there.
Originally it was just going to be me and a couple of my Skil-Shimano teammates, but we spoke to one of our trainers and now it looks like it's snowballed into most of the team going; we even have two soigneurs coming along with us. We'll a lot of long hours in the saddle and it looks like it'll be a really good camp to get set up for next year.
In reality, it's not that long before next season starts again. In the last week of December I'll go back to the track for some training and then in early January do the Six-days of Rotterdam. We've got another (official) Skil-Shimano training camp in Majorca planned and then after that it's back to the road and, hopefully, an even better season than this one.
I look forward to letting you know how it goes!