The other big Jens speaks frankly about the classics and Ricco
One of three Dutch riders on the GreenEdge roster, Jens Mouris will be making the most of his time in Australia before heading back to the northern hemisphere winter.
Mouris landed in Sydney on Friday before riding in the NSW Grand Prix Series at Wollongong and Cronulla on the weekend where he animated both races without getting a result. The main reason for his journey from the Netherlands however is the GreenEdge training camp taking place in Canberra and Melbourne over the next two weeks, with the Australian-derived project set to get the okay from the UCI in regards to their licence application over the final few days. From there, Mouris and his 2012 teammates Sebastian Langeveld and Pieter Weening will then return to Sydney for a little over a week.
"It's a new challenge and a new approach to things," Mouris, who sounds almost Australian having spent a fair bit of time Down Under in the past, told Cyclingnews in Cronulla. "I'm looking forward to it. I like the people here, so it’s great."
Mouris, now 31, is no stranger to working with fledgling teams having ridden for Vacansoleil-DCM since its inaugural year in 2009. While 2011 was a turbulent year for the Dutch team, especially due to the alleged contaminated blood transfusion by Riccardo Ricco, with speculation management had to appear in front of the UCI's Licence Commission to secure its WorldTour spot for 2012 as a result, Mouris explained that for the riders it was a matter of business as usual.
"The team didn't get flicked from any races so it wasn't too bad," he said. "I don't know if it was actually thought about or if it was just people in the press. It was shit.
"You know what kind of guy he is," Mouris continued regarding Ricco. "I don't want to say too much about it but it wasn't that big of a surprise."
When it comes to his own performance in 2011, Mouris doesn't hide his disappointment despite the fact that much of his time on the bike is dedicated to getting a result for the team.
"This year wasn't that great," he admitted. "I came second in the national time trial but the back half wasn't that good. I was going well but I just didn't get any results.
"It's always nice to have results yourself but sometimes you just can't do it – if you have a sprinter on the team and then I'm not much of a mountain climber so you can't really do much about that."
Mouris is likely to start his season at the Tour of Qatar in February before GreenEdge's all-out assault on the cobbled classics in March – with Shayne Bannan's project vocal in their ambitions in Belgium and France. The Dutchman with his 197 centimetre frame, which carries his 91 kilo body, is likely to play a key role for the team with Mouris keen to learn as much as he can from 2007 Paris-Roubaix winner and fellow recruit, Stuart O'Grady of whom Mouris calls "the benchmark."
"I'll hopefully do all the cobbled classics and see what else – I don't want to look to far ahead," he said. "I'll see how I settle in.
"My time trial used to be really good so I want to get that better again and try and get some good results and do good in the spring classics for the lead riders like Langeveld and hopefully learn something from Stuey."
It was in the individual time trial at the Dutch National Championships where Mouris collected his best result of the 2011 season, finishing second behind Stef Clement. Given his strong track background, he represented Holland in three Olympic Games, it's no surprise that the time trial is one of Mouris' personal strengths. As to whether his road focus in recent seasons has contributed to his racing against the clock falling away, Mouris is non-committal.
"Maybe," he responds. "Also, you want to focus on different things and you're lead to things you're good at... you need to keep focussed on things like that [the time trial]."
So what will it take in order to match it with the likes of Fabian Cancellara once again, as he did at the prologue of the Vuelta a Espana in 2009?
"Training and a bit more coaching from the team but it's probably small things," Mouris said. "I train a lot, so that's not going to change."