Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM) is set to tailor his 2012 campaign in order to reach the world championships in Valkenburg in the best possible condition. The Dutchman admitted that he raced too much last season, particular in the immediate aftermath of the Tour de France, when he was much in demand on the criterium circuit.
“It’s an Olympic year and the Worlds are in Valkenburg in Holland, so I’ll start racing later than normal,” Hoogerland told Gazzetta dello Sport. “In comparison to 2011, I want to race a bit less. By the end of Tour, I had done 90 days of racing. In total I did over 120 days. Too many. In 2012, I’d like to do 80 at the most.”
Already renowned as a tenacious attacker, Hoogerland’s popularity soared at the Tour de France, when he crashed into a barbed wire fence after a car struck his breakaway companion Juan Antonio Flecha on stage 9. In spite of deep cuts to his legs, Hoogerland succeeded in defending the polka dot jersey until the Pyrenees and went on to finish the race in Paris.
“But I don’t want to be remembered as the barbed wire guy,” he said. “I want people to remember me for what I did afterwards. I pulled the barbed wire from my flesh, got back on my bike and crashed the line, injured and bloodied. Then I hung tough and finished the Tour.”
While Hoogerland’s show of courage at the Tour was one of the highpoints of Vacansoleil-DCM’s first season at WorldTour level, the Dutch squad suffered a serious blow to its credibility at the beginning of the year when Riccardo Riccò was hospitalised with a kidney ailment allegedly caused by an illegal blood transfusion.
“He was a nice guy, we got on well,” Hoogerland said. “When I heard that he had almost died, I sent him a text message to encourage him. He never responded, and when they told me what had happened, I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t heard from him again since then.”