ASO’s sudden announcement of the Tour de France teams on Twitter may have come as a surprise but few would have been surprised when they saw that MTN-Qhubeka had earned a wildcard entry. The team have been working hard this winter to ensure that eventuality by bringing on a number of big-name riders.
Competition for positions in the nine-man team will be hot and, with the race starting in the Netherlands, Theo Bos is determined as ever to make his debut at the race.
“Everybody wants to do the Tour,” Bos told Cyclingnews. “This year it starts in Holland. This must be a goal and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I may never have this opportunity again.”
Bos was brought into the team as part of a drive to bolster their roster as they targeted selection for the Tour de France. That goal may have been achieved and while Bos is confident of their capabilities he believes that the he and team needs to hit the ground running in 2015 to show their worth.
“I think that the potential is in the team to do a Tour but we have to show it from January on. The most important thing is to show ourselves and that we can win races to be attractive for the crowd and for the organisers,” he said. “I want to be good right from the start of the season to get the team victories and get them in the picture.”
The Tour de France isn’t the only French race on Bos’ radar in 2015 with Paris-Roubaix penned in for the spring. The Dutchman has made two appearances at the Hell of the North in the past. His last start in Compiegne came with Rabobank in 2011, where he failed to finish. MTN general manager Brian Smith told Cyclingnews in an interview last September that he believes Bos is an ideal rider for the northern French pavé but he remains a little sceptical.
“It is a race that suits me but to win it is a bit unrealistic. I think I can hang on and with a few other guys like Edvald, who can hang on really well. I am happy to help him in the deep final. I am happy to do that. It’s a compliment from Brian, I like that he’s said but I will have to see it to believe it,” said Bos. ““It’s a really big challenge this race so I’m really looking forward to competing there. I think that’s the focus for the beginning of the season.”
The move to MTN-Qhubeka sees him re-united with Smith, who was integral to him joining the South African team. The pair worked together at the Cérvelo Test Team, Bos’ first professional road team after making the switch from the track, in 2010. He spent a year at the team before the folded and he made the switch to the WorldTour with Rabobank.
Bos was one of the first to sign for MTN-Qhubeka way back August and says that he is not at all worried about leaving the WorldTour behind him. “I can’t see why people are really afraid of that. If you have a group of good riders and you have a completely professional team you can have a lot of good races and you can have results in big races,” he said to Cyclingnews.
“I’m super pleased, I’m super happy with the team. I think that it’s a great adventure and it gives me a lot of energy to be here and days like today [visiting a Qhubeka project] give me the energy to perform well and to enjoy cycling…. it’s a special team because they have a project attached to it, Qhubeka. It’s unique. Of course it’s not the most important thing but it is nice that they are with this team.”
Returning to the track?
It has been more than five years since Bos decided to give up the board for the tarmac, after winning five world titles in the sprint, time trial and Keirin. He has had sporadic appearances on the track since then - most recently at the European Track Championships in Guadeloupe where he competed in the scratch race (finishing 11th) and the Madison (9th) with Wim Stroetinga. While he says that the track training paid off on the road, it wasn’t enough in Guadeloupe.
“I was really bad,” Bos said. “It helped me a lot on the road but it wasn’t enough training to do well on the track and to give value to the team. I didn’t do well. If you want to give it a go and be of worth then you have to put in more effort and that is difficult. It is almost impossible when you are paid to be a full-time cyclist and to do well on the road.”
Bos didn’t discount another attempt on the track ahead of the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. “Maybe I will give it a try again after the season but I was really disappointed. The Europeans this year will be on an indoor wooden track and not on an outdoor Caribbean track. Maybe that didn’t give me the right picture of where I stand.”