Jackson Stewart, a three-year veteran of BMC Racing, has based his off-season on the team's push to step up the racing level in 2009 and has his eyes set on the season's first test at the Tour of Qatar.
"I've had a very good off-season, actually. In addition to riding off-road, I focused on gym-related strength training a lot more than I have in the past," Stewart said. "I have a good base already in place, and now plan on using our training camp to top off the intensity and get up to racing speeds again. I have also been using the time to get my position dialed in since I had so much trouble with my hip last year. I have been working with a specialist, doing targeted exercises, so we have definitely fixed some stuff."
Similar to last year, Stewart will begin his season on the wind-swept roads of Qatar. The first order of business for the team will be to improve on its team time trial performance from 2008. "I really like team time trials, especially since we have found success with them before," said Stewart, who was a member of the BMC team which won the team time trial at the Giro del Friuli in 2007. "Last year we were a little disappointed with our result in the Qatar team time trial, but this year we will know the course around the Doha Corniche and we are taking some big engines, so we are pretty confident."
Stewart's time spent racing in Europe last season has increased his confidence and whetted his appetite for more Euro competition. "I am most excited about going back to Europe to race. I hope that I can have a chance to ride at least a few of the events I did over there last year, races like Romandie and Criterium International, and use some of the experience I gained."