Tirreno-Adriatico title defendant Thomas Dekker (Rabobank) is not shy person, nor is he afraid of talking about his objectives. Speaking to Dutch journalists, Dekker said that he was feeling confident of being able to win the Italian 'race between the two seas' once again.
"I know I can't win this race every time for the next ten years, but twice in two years should be feasible." The 22 year-old feels himself ready to tackle the challenge, especially since he made it through some setbacks in the second part of last season.
As a consequence of a bizarre decrease of form, Dekker didn't participate in the Tour de France last year. And just when his legs turned again as he felt they should, he broke his wrist and missed out on the World's. "It may sound odd, but these setbacks were good for me," Dekker commented. "Now, there's a cliché: I can put things into perspective now. It's so difficult to understand that your body doesn't want to go forward - this can happen once, but not over a longer period of time. In the Sachsen-Tour [in July 2006 - ed.], I wanted to put an end to my career: during the second stage, I thought of abandoning all the time."
Looking back, Dekker didn't regret not racing the French Grand Tour. "Renouncing on the Tour was the right decision," he said. "At the time, it hurt, because you know what you could have done in the Tour. But I was in no state to do anything. There was no energy in my body. I trained very hard last year, maybe a bit too much. But I'm going to do exactly the same this year, because that's not what caused it."
Dekker's training plans are largely directed by Italian preparatore Luigi Cecchini, who is also a good friend. The young Dutchman is frequently invited to dinner at Cecchini's home, along with other cyclists such as Fabian Cancellara, Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche.
"I can win here, I'm sure I can," Dekker reiterated about his possibilities at the 2007 Tirreno-Adriatico. "Look at the stage profiles, and you will not see much differences with last year. We have a great team here, and my form is excellent. So I think it's only logical that I'm the Rabobank leader for the classification. Last year, I showed what I can do, and now they trust me. I think it's okay to talk about one's ambitions - I don't like riders that never do."
Dekker's personality is suited to bear the responsibilities of being a team leader. "Heading a team doesn't make me nervous," he added.