Danish champion Kasper Asgreen has mapped out his 2021 season plans, with a return to the Tour de France high in his thoughts along with more spring Classics success and, hopefully, a berth at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 25-year-old, currently training with his Deceuninck-QuickStep team in Spain, said that the cobbles will be his first aim this year, hopefully replicating his 2019 Tour of Flanders runner-up spot and 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne victory.
Asgreen ended his 2020 campaign with a successful defence of the Danish time trial title before taking 11th at Gent-Wevelgem, 13th at Tour of Flanders, and ninth at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne. As part of a super-strong Deceuninck-QuickStep squad, he'll certainly be in contention for more success this spring.
"I will once again try and aim for the Classics," he said in the team's virtual press conference. "They'll be my first big goal of the year. If I could get another win there in one of the cobbled Classics that would be amazing.
"Afterwards I will switch my focus to hopefully a spot at the Tour de France and the in the autumn, the World Championships."
As for which Classics he'd specifically like to target, it's not for him to pick and choose in what will only be his third pro year, Asgreen said.
"I'm not in a position to pick one over the other. Those races are so hard to win that if you can manage to win one then it's already a great accomplishment."
He and his squad will come up against a strong Trek-Segafredo team, a rebuilt AG2R Citröen, Lotto Soudal's dual threat, the superstars of Wout Van Aert, Peter Sagan and Mathieu van der Poel, and more.
Asgreen sees Deceuninck-QuickStep's strength in depth – with him, Julian Alaphilippe, Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Štybar and Florian Sénéchal all capable of leading a team – as key to beating those rivals through the spring.
"Definitely, it's been the approach from our team for several years now," he said. "We've been very successful, I think. So, I don't see why we shouldn't continue with this approach and I see it as a huge strength to have such good riders as my teammates instead of my competitors."
After a first peak in April, targeting the Tour, the Olympic Games road race – which comes five days after Paris – and the Worlds in mid-September will come as a big challenge. However, the feasibility is something Asgreen is still considering, especially when the Olympics might once again come under threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Like you mentioned, all three races are races that I have on my mind that I would like to go for," he said. "Let's see if it's possible to combine all of them. At the moment there's quite a few question marks especially around the Olympics so we don't know yet. Until I know for sure whether it's possible to combine, I don't rule out anything.
"For the moment it's a long way out so I don't change my preparation. So, for now I see what happens and keep all three of them in my mind."
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