Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervelo) is hoping to put a disastrous year behind him and relaunch his career in the 2012 spring classics. The 28-year-old had a year to forget in 2011, crashing out of Paris-Nice and missing the spring campaign with a punctured lung and several broken ribs. He returned to racing later in the year but struggled to get to grips with the pace of the peloton.
However, with a basis of a solid winter behind him, the Dutch rider’s confidence is on the rise again.
“The training is going well. I just got back from a training camp in Spain and I can tell that the form is where it needs to be at the moment,” Maaskant told Cyclingnews.
Maaskant will head to the season opener at the Tour Down Under next month, a race he has never participated in before, and will then head back to Europe to fine tune his Classics form. Once again, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix – he has finished 4th in both races – will be the main aims for his season.
“For me the season starts really early because I’ll go to the Tour Down Under and then head back to Europe for a full schedule of races. That will be good for me as I didn’t do too many races last year and missed a lot of the season.
“I feel like I’ve fully recovered but after my crash this season I didn’t get back into form again and I was struggling in races but I’m back onto a schedule now and I’m looking good for the classics in 2012.”
And Maaskant is eager to make up for lost time.
“In many ways 2011 was a wasted year for me. I started pretty well but and I was hoping to do something in the classics but my crash destroyed everything for me. I want to be in top condition up until Paris-Roubaix.”
Maaskant’s role in the team is perhaps unclear. After a year off, he admits that the pressure on him to gain results may be less but that with Thor Hushovd signing for BMC, there is an opportunity for him to step up.
"There are more opportunities perhaps so it’s not a bad thing but he’s a big rider and a loss but I think we still have a strong team. You saw that it was possible to win big races with what Van Summeren did and that’s an inspiration for the rest of us, and showed that you don’t need to be one of the big favourites.”