After five years with Lotto, Johan Van Summeren is looking forward to competing at the Classics in his new Garmin-Transitions team kit. The 28-year-old made the switch last September and recently completed his first team training camp with the argyle-clad squad in Calpe, Spain.
Van Summeren was originally in negotiations with Garmin in April last year but did not sign a contract until September. However, his original contact with the team and his motivation to switch teams came much earlier in 2009.
"I had my first contact with Jonathan Vaughters after the Classics. However, I was sitting on a plane with Martijn Maaskant after Milano-Sanremo and I asked him for the phone number of Lionel Marie but I never called him. I was interested in the team then, though, so I was delighted when Jonathan called me himself. I liked the offer and from the first moment knew it was the right choice," Van Summeren told Cyclingnews at the team's recent camp.
The Belgian's season will revolve around the Classics with the possibility that he'll ride the Tour taken much later in the year. But it's the Classics where Van Summeren will be looking to shine after his fifth place in Paris-Roubaix last year. It's a far cry from the 2004 season when he left Quick Step and raced for Relax-Bodysol in Spain.
"I'm not alone in the role of leader for the Classics. Me and Martijn will go into those races together and the race situation will decide who will do something. I will have the opportunity to do things here. It was one of the reasons."
The culture shock in moving from one of Belgium's oldest teams to Garmin hasn't phased Van Summeren as he looks to settle in as quickly as possible. "The biggest difference is that Garmin is more scientific when it comes to training. It's not that we didn't train at Lotto but here we're training two times a day and we're doing a lot of testing. It's very professional," he said.
In fact, Van Summeren believes that every rider should change teams at least once in their career as it's motivated the Belgian.
"I spent five years with Lotto. It's totally different. I knew the Garmin guys from races but you don't really know them personally when you're competing against them and constantly on the road. You have to get to know them when you join the team, though. It's a nice experience and one that I recommend that everyone does in their career. It's good for motivation and you learn new things. You want to prove to your bosses that you're worth the money they paid for you."