Floris Goesinnen capped off a fantastic finish to his Australian racing program when he won the Melbourne to Warrnambool and the following day's Shipwreck Coast Classic last weekend. It was a superb weekend for the Drapac Professional Cycling team who also won the team classification along with former Warrnambool-winner Rhys Pollock taking home the Sprint, King of the Mountains and Victorian 200km Championships.
Many wouldn't have picked Goesinnen as a likely winner of the Melbourne to Warrnambool, but the Dutchman who's has ridden with the Drapac team for the past two seasons knows what it's like to be in a breakaway at the world's biggest races. Goesinnen was the final rider to be caught at the 2010 Tour of Flanders while riding for Skil-Shimano after having been in the breakaway from the moment the flag dropped. He eventually finished over 13 minutes down on race winner Fabian Cancellara.
Having signed for a third year with Drapac, Goesinnen says that in hindsight joining the team at the end of 2010 was one of the best decisions he could have made. He had been with Skil-Shimano since late 2006 but began to lose motivation toward the end of his four-year tenure.
"It's great watching the big stars on television but if you're not at the level of the best climbers or Mark Cavendish then you get stuck in the role of domestique or early breakaway rider. This is fine but it kind of became work and I stopped dreaming a bit. At the start of your career you think you are going to be world champion or winning the Tour de France but then you realise your place," Goesinnen told Cyclingnews.
"I kind of lost excitement for the sport. It was a hard to make a step back but it gave me back the excitement I had when I was an 18-year-old kid. On paper it's a step downward but for a Continental team, Drapac is one of the best.
"I wouldn't have stayed on for two years already if I wasn't happy with the team. Signing for a third year I think says enough, especially when it's so far from home," he said.
After feeling like he was progressing each year Goesinnen eventually reached what he called his "limit". It was perhaps the realisation that he lacked the extra few percent to be one of the big stars of the sport in Europe. Being confined to a domestic role wasn't his plan when he turned professional and this caused him to lose the motivation necessary to perform at the highest level.
"After spending a number of years in the professional league I feel like I kind of reached my limit. I had been getting better every year but then I kind of stopped improving.
"In the big races the interest of the teams is so high that it kind of gets a bit predictable. You rarely have any unexpected outcomes. It's so controlled. You only have to look at the Tour de France. It's almost getting boring with so many bunch sprints."
The move from a Professional Continental team to Australia may have seemed like a dramatic step for many riders but it's what you make of the experience says Goesinnen. It's not often that professionals get to step outside of the confines of a race but travelling to places in Asia has given the 27-year-old experiences he will never forget.
"It's on the other side of the world and it's a different experience rather than a step downwards. That's how I look at it anyway. I could have gone to a Drapac-like team in Belgium, Netherlands or Germany, closer to home but I think the move would have felt more obvious. This was a perfect match for me to get back the excitement of racing, being in a new environment with new races in an awesome country," he told Cyclingnews.
"It's a cultural experience as well. The smaller races in Asia often leave you with the best experiences. If you get served really local food in China they are the dinners you remember - as long as you are ok with deep-fried chicken with the head still attached," joked Goesinnen. "It sometimes forces you to get outside the race bubble.
"There's not many Continental or Professional Continental teams within the Oceania region. You don't need the higher status to gain invites to races to Langkawi or Hainan which our team gets invites to anyway."
The year is far from over as Goesinnen as his team prepares for their next race in China, the eight-day Tour of Taihu Lake. The team is increasing their Asian-based calendar in 2013 and this means they will have to sit out this year's final National Road Series race, Grafton to Inverell.
"Next year the team will be focussing on more Asian tours. I'll spend a big part of the year, when there's not much racing in Australia, in The Netherlands. I'll do the Asian tours from there."
"Being a pretty close team already and with two years behind me I'll spend a little bit longer in Europe when the focus is on Asia but then I'll still come over to Australia for a big part of the NRS."
Goesinnen will continue to divide his time between Australia and The Netherlands next year and is looking to guide some of the younger riders whilst seeking his own opportunities as they arise.
"It's a bit of a plan to help the younger riders achieve some good results and then in the longer races towards the end of the year is when you'll see guys like me and Rhys come to the surface."