New Jumbo-Visma signing Chris Harper says that the lack of racing during the coronavirus pandemic is disappointing in terms of this being his first season as a professional, but that being happy, healthy and able to ride his bike is not something that he's taking for granted.
The 25-year-old Australian – who joined the Dutch WorldTour outfit for 2020 from Australian Continental squad Team BridgeLane – headed home to Adelaide once it was clear that racing was going to be postponed for some time, and has settled into a new routine while being near to his family.
"I had to go into quarantine for two weeks under government regulations because I'd returned from Europe," he said on his team's website. "My sister returned from London a day later. We spent those two weeks at my parents' farm about 20 minutes from our family home. It's very beautiful and peaceful there, and it's also good to see my family again – especially in these uncertain times."
While training outside has still been allowed in Australia, Harper's also been getting reacquainted with his turbo trainer and indoor-cycling platform Zwift.
"Just like the other guys, I've also had to make some changes in my daily training. With my trainer Tim Heemskerk, I've made a nice schedule to maintain my fitness level over the coming weeks, but also to keep mentally fresh," he said.
"These are uncertain times for everyone, and therefore we can't set ourselves any race targets. I spent a lot of time on the Tacx trainer during those two weeks in quarantine. I'd not used Zwift for a while, but lately I've been using it more often as a great training tool to add some variety to my sessions, and also to have some fun."
With 17 days of racing under his belt so far in 2020, Harper was one of the more active riders in the pro peloton, racing at the National Championships and the Tour Down Under in Australia in January before racing at the Tour de la Provence and the Vuelta a Andalucia in France and Spain, respectively, in February.
His new Jumbo-Visma teammates Primoz Roglic, Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk, meanwhile – who are all set to lead the team at the Tour de France, whenever, and if, it happens this year – have yet to turn a pedal in anger this season.
"It is of course mentally disappointing that we can't race for a while – especially since it's my first year as a professional and I was really looking forward to the upcoming races," said Harper.
"But, in the end, there are bigger problems in the world right now, and that certainly isn't the fact that we're not able to race. Of course, it can be a bit tough mentally to get excited every day to do your workouts, but the fact and thought that I can still ride my bike, and that I'm happy and healthy, is worth a lot to me," he said.