“I enjoy cycling more than ever now, because it was almost over and I was almost retired,” he told Cyclingnews. “Of course I have pressure, but it’s not like all the other years. I’m happy that I’m still on the bike and I really enjoy cycling more than ever now.”
Van Hummel had a verbal agreement with Fernando Alonso to ride for his new team in 2014, after his own Vacansoleil-DCM team folded. When the Alonso team fell through he found himself without a contract and no interest from any other teams. The Dutch rider had already begun making plans for his new life when Gianni Savio came along and offered him a place in his Pro Continental team.
“It was a big issue last year, because I didn’t know what to do and I was already looking to study. Then suddenly Gianni was there and he asked me if I wanted to fill a spot for a sprinter,” Van Hummel explains. “So I said yeah of course, but I had to lose a lot of weight. In my head I had already retired. I lost 10 kilograms before the season started so I am in good condition.”
The good condition showed on stage six of the Tour de Langkawi when Van Hummel raced to victory over Aidis Kruopis of Orica-GreenEDGE. After the stage, the Dutch rider said that it was a hugely important victory for him after the turbulent winter. It was also the perfect way to repay his new team boss’ faith. “It was a big present that I won the sixth stage here and I’m really happy with that. I’ve never won that early in the season, like now. I trained well the last winter and it’s for me a sign that I did well in the winter.”
Despite the language barriers, Van Hummel has settled in well at the Italian team. He was joined by fellow Dutchman and Vacansoleil teammate Johnny Hoogerland at Androni, which will no doubt make the move a little easier. However, Van Hummel already looked at ease with his new team at the Tour de Langkawi and says he’s already working on his Italian.
“We have a lot of fun. It’s one big family. I don’t speak Italian perfect yet, but I can speak some words. They have taught me a lot of Italian words, also the bad words. I’m learning.”
Androni is only Van Hummel’s third team since turning professional in 2006 with Skil-Shimano. The 31-year-old spent six seasons with them before making the jump up to WorldTour in 2012. Since then he has only managed a single victory in each of the seasons with Vacansoleil. Van Hummel would like to return to his past glories, and sees every race as an opportunity.
“I have no targets, I always want to win,” he tells Cyclingnews. “At the moment I feel stronger than ever at this time of the year, so I’m confident for the up and coming races. Like I already said, I enjoy cycling more than ever. I have no pressure, if I win I win and if I don’t, shit. I am always looking for a win of course and I want to win but I have less pressure than all the other years.”