UAE Team Emirates sprinter Jasper Philipsen wasn't able to secure a stage victory at the recent Tour of California, but says that he's ready to take advantage of his good form in his upcoming races, which include the Hammer Limburg, in the Netherlands, at the start of next month.
Philipsen finished second in the bunch-sprint finish to stage 4 of the Tour of California to Fabio Jakobsen – who took Deceuninck-QuickStep's third stage win in a row – and then took third place on the final stage behind Cees Bol (Sunweb) and Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan, again in a bunch sprint.
The 21-year-old is one of Belgium's most exciting up-and-coming riders, and has even been compared to the now-retired sprinter and Classics specialist Tom Boonen, who nevertheless still occasionally trains with Philipsen, as the two come from the same part of Belgium.
It could be argued that Philipsen's rise has been somewhat overshadowed by the media and fan interest in compatriot Wout van Aert's successful transition from cyclo-cross to the road, with Jumbo-Visma, this spring, but Philipsen appears content to simply knuckle down and keep learning his trade.
Already this season – his first at UAE Team Emirates, having joined from the Axel Merckx-run Hagen Bermans Axeon Pro Continental team – Philipsen has won a stage of the Tour Down Under and finished on the podium at the Nokere Koerse.
After coming close to a stage win in California, Philipsen has returned to Europe to continue his season full of confidence.
"I finished the Tour of California with a positive feeling, and I want to take that back to Belgium. I was close to winning, but it just didn't work out," Philipsen told HLN.be.
"After the spring, I was really tired, but I'm feeling good again now. I've learned a lot this year. It was all new, and I didn't know how my body would react, as I did a lot of races in quick succession," he said, having raced a packed Classics programme that included such high-profile events as Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
"I feel as though I've become a little more professional in recent weeks, and the team's really helped me with that," said Philipsen. "I've paid more attention to my diet, and have paid attention to making sure that I've rested properly but still trained well, and that's really paid off.
"In the pro ranks, you don't need to be riding at 90 per cent; you need to be at 100 per cent. That's the big difference compared to under-23 level," he said. "But I've returned home from California feeling good, and I hope that I can keep this condition for a while."
After Hammer Limburg, Philipsen is set to ride the Ronde van Limburg, ahead of a number of smaller events throughout June, and will then see where his season takes him.
In the meantime, the young sprinter will continue to learn from the likes of teammates Alexander Kristoff and Fernando Gaviria, which means that his next win is unlikely to be too far away.
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