Johnny Hoogerland knows he needs a good spring classics campaign in order to be named to the Dutch national team for the Olympics and the Worlds. Both races are suited to him, the Vacansoleil rider said, especially the Worlds course in his homeland, a circuit which he says he loves.
He is starting 2012 off with “a good winter, good training.” He will be in Spain for four weeks before opening his season with the Volta ao Algarve. “Then I will hopefully be in a good condition for the Flemish races and the races in the Ardennes,” he told Cyclingnews at the Vacansoleil team presentation in Maastricht. “After a rest period in May, I will be prepared for the Tour, hopefully the Olympics and then prepare for the Worlds hopefully, with the Vuelta.”
A strong spring is the basis for the remainder of the season. Being named to the national team for the Olympics and Worlds “depends a little bit on my results in the spring classics. Normally the coach is going to decide in May who is going to go, so it depends on how I ride in Amstel and Liege, that sort of race.”
Both of those races would suit him well, Hoogerland thinks. “A lot of people say the Olympic race is very easy, but I don't believe this. The first part and the last part are pretty easy but in between it is very hilly so .... it's not so easy to control, especially because we are only with five in the team. If you want to try to control things, we would have three riders try and control the whole 260k race, that's not possible.”
There is no question as to the Worlds race, to be held in Valkenburg. “I love the course of the Worlds. It's super hard, but also super beautiful.”
After last year's dramatic Tour, which saw him continue riding after his painful encounter with barbed wire on stage nine and a number of days in the mountains jersey, Hoogerland hit the criterium circuit. Perhaps he overdid it.
“I did a lot of criteriums. Yes, it was not easy for me, all the hectic around my person. Maybe I rode too much, maybe it was a good lesson for the next year,” he said. “But after what happened I wanted to go to thank all the people who supported me.”
Last year the team proudly presented Riccardo Riccò and Ezequiel Mosquera. The Italian was soon fired for violating team rules, while under suspicion of doping. The Spaniard did not ride all year due to his pending doping case.
This year neither name was mentioned at the presentation, and Hoogerland says it may be good for the team to put that behind them and move on. “It is good they delete Riccò. I think the Mosquera case is a little more difficult, but yeah I think maybe its good for the team that we don't have this bad news and stress any more.”