After a frustrating season of injuries and illness Thomas Lövkvist is looking forward to a more consistent season on the road in 2014. The 29-year-old moved to the Swiss-registed IAM Cycling team at the start of 2013 and began the season in flying form, winning the Tour de Mediterranean in one of his first outings for the team.
However, illness soon stuck and a month later Lövkvist was hit by a car, luckily only sustaining a fractured index finger. It meant several weeks off the bike and he was unable to regain his early season form.
“There were some ups and downs. I couldn’t have started better after my win with in the Tour of Med, but that I had problems and bad luck with a collision with a car and then a fracture of an index finger. I got ill a couple of times so I didn’t get the maximum out of myself in the second half of the year,” he told Cyclingnews from his home in Sweden.
“I got a cold after Med, I crashed in Paris-Nice, I crashed in Sarthe and then I broke my finger. It took a while to get started again and I couldn’t get into form for the Tour de Suisse. Then we had a whole summer with no races and I really lost momentum there.”
Although IAM Cycling will remain within the Pro Continental ranks for 2014, the squad has talked up their chances of invites to both the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, both races they missed out this season. They’ve signed a number of riders to bolster their chances. Sylvain Chavanel will help lead the line in the Classics, while his popularity in France will do the team no harm at all in their search for a Tour slot.
Mathias Frank, Roger Kluge, Jérôme Pineau and Vicente Reynes have all joined the team too.
“I hope that I can stay healthy and in one piece,” Lövkvist said of his own aspirations.
“The ambition is for the team and I do both the Giro and the Tour but that’s dependent on wildcard invitations. Then there are the hilly classics and Romandie and Suisse, which are important races for the team.”
“There would be two stints of form for me though. Maybe one over Paris-Nice or Tirreno, depending on if we do them. Then after that I’ll switch focus to the Grand Tours.”
“I really like the Giro, I love racing there and I have some really good memories from racing in Italy,” he added, alluding to his time in the maglia rosa in 2009 and his win in Strade Bianche that same season.
“The Tour is the biggest race, the biggest event that everyone knows, so because of that it’s bigger, but I like the Giro more as a race but if the team does both, then I’ll do both.”
Despite the fact that the team's race programme cannot be confirmed yet, Lövkvist is sure that his best chances of success lie in attacking for stage wins, and that the team's added strength in depth will lessen some of the burden on his shoulders.
“I’d be going to either races for stage wins. I think I’d have the capacity to ride for a top ten on GC but that would be if everything went perfectly with no mistakes. I think I have a greater chance of success if I go for stage win.”
"It’s always better to have a strong team. I always get the question if I’m going to get less opportunities now, but like we had at HTC in 2008 and 2009 the whole team were getting results and there was space for everyone. You share the responsibility and the pressure so I only see their signings as a good thing."
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