Having won over a quarter of Belkin’s victories in 2013, Theo Bos has set himself the target of winning even more in 2014. The 30-year-old ended the season with 12 wins this year, with Belkin finishing the calendar year with 38 in total.
“The team just want me to win a lot of races, as much as possible,” Bos told Cyclingnews at Belkin’s recent final training camp in Spain ahead of next season.
Bos’s 2014 season will be carved into two halves. He will skip the Giro d’Italia and instead focus his attention on wining stages in the week-ling races that litter the opening months of the year. A Tour de France slot, he admits is a long-shot, meaning that a return to the Vuelta might be on the cards.
“I think it’s better to just set some goals for the first half of the season. I have to make a big improvement to go to the Tour though. It’s a dream for every cyclist but I have to be realistic. I’ll not do the Giro though, it’s a hard race.”
“I think in 2014 I need to do the same as what I did this year in terms of trying to win from the start of the season and win a big race,” he said.
Back to the Vuelta
A return to the Vuelta instantly brings back memories of this year’s race, when Bos was prevented from starting the race after routine pre-race controls showed a low level of cortisol in his system. Under UCI rules he could have lined up for the race but with Belkin a member of Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC), the rider was forced to remove himself from completion. Bos was eventually cleared to race and carved up six stage wins in the Tour of Hainan in China but the episode at the Vuelta has left him raw.
“We did the test the day before the Vuelta. Then the doctor said there was a problem with the cortisol level. You don’t really know what that means but you know it doesn’t sound good,” said Bos.
“With the MPCC rules I couldn’t start but we did some research and went to see some specialists so we could see what was happening. They said it was due to the inhaler I have for asthma. I did some tests then with and without the inhaler and with these blood samples we went to an independent expect in Maastricht to verify that the inhaler was influencing my levels. It’s good that I could prove that but it came with little satisfaction.”
The Vuelta episode meant that Bos missed out on riding a Grand Tour in 2013 but he found some level of solace at the Tour of Hainan, in which his team won every single stage, and the overall. Bos' six stages plus his wins in Criterium International, Algarve, Langkawi and the Elektrotoer balanced out his season.
“If you look to victories it was my best seasons. It was good, the season before was also good, but I’m not super happy after what happened with the Vuelta. I’ve got mixed feelings about this year,” he said.
“Criterium International was a nice victory but the best for me was at Elektrotoer when, just before the Tour de France I beat the three big sprinters. It was a really tough stage, with a lot of wind. I had good legs and great form. You had Kittel, Griepel, Cavendish and then me. I went early and had a small gap and it was a really nice feeling to win.”
And as for Hainan, there’s every chance of Bos returning to the race in 2014.
“We took it really seriously. We travelled eight thousand kilometres to do the race so we took it seriously. But it was good fun too. Okay the competition wasn’t that high and there weren’t super, super sprinters but winning is always painful and difficult. Of course we thought about letting others win, but a win is a win. Now though the selection for the race is more competitive than the one for the Tour de France. Everyone from the team wants to go now.”