No professional rider would welcome the current racing hiatus, but you suspect it might have come at a worse time for some than others. Jasper Stuyven had just won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and, after a couple of years without a major Classics victory, looked set to storm the spring until the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
The Trek-Segafredo rider, whose last spring win came at the 2016 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, admits to some initial frustration, but has since adjusted his perspective to count himself fortunate.
"It was hard to take for the first week or two, but I was quite quickly able to switch my mind there," Stuyven told Cyclingnews in a video call on Friday.
"I’m actually looking at it really positively now. There are a lot of other riders who also prepared really well and worked hard all winter to be in good shape, and they got out with nothing. I actually saw my hard work rewarded and I got out with a really big win in the pocket, so I look at it in a positive way now."
Similarly, Stuyven has adapted to the strict lockdown conditions in his adopted home of Monaco, where training outdoors is not permitted.
"It was tough at first but, after two weeks in lockdown, I came into a state of mind that was ok to deal with the situation," he said.
"It is what it is, and you just fill your days spending more time together, walking my dog, going on the home trainer a lot. I’m actually doing good, and enjoying the time at home. It’s ok."
Stuyven described himself as being "in between the mental fight to train on the rollers", given he hasn’t been able to ride outside. Unlike some, he didn’t take his foot off the gas when racing was suspended by the UCI. Despite all the Spring Classics being postponed by March 17, three days after the conclusion of a truncated Paris-Nice, Stuyven continued to work hard all the way to April 12 in a bid to emulate his usual spring efforts.
"I did a really good four-week block after Paris-Nice until the normal date of Paris-Roubaix, and since that day I have been taking it really easy," he said.
"Normally, next week I start to train a bit with a schedule again and put in more work. I’m also hoping that from the beginning of May we’ll be able to ride outside again."
'A nice calendar but I'm not sure it'll happen'
Still, Stuyven is far from sure what he’ll actually be training for once he does hit the roads again. The Tour de France has been rescheduled for August 29-September 30 and is set to be followed by the World Championships, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España.
The UCI has voiced its commitment to holding certain major one-day Classics but has so far given no indication of possible dates, with a range of theories placing various races across August, September, and October.
"In one way, it’s a nice enough calendar, but I’m not so sure it will happen," Stuyven warned. "It’s the governments who will decide if it will be possible to hold these events and for me this is still a big question mark.
"Concerning the Monuments, or the Classics, I’ve been reading about a lot of possible dates. One day I read it’s going to be some of them in August and the next day I read that they’re all going to be in October, so we will have to wait and see. Even when it’s confirmed, it will be the governments or the World Health Organisation who make the call."
As for what the change in dates would mean for his chances of success, Stuyven suggested a set of Autumn Classics would be something of a lottery but insisted that, no matter who the eventual dates end up favouring, the main thing will be that something will have been salvaged from the season.
"There were some comments from a guys, saying, ‘at the end of the year I’m always in good shape’, but they forget to mention that the reason why they’re in that shape is because they did the Tour or Vuelta, and have come out of a Grand Tour," he explained.
"I don’t mind; it’s just important and good for cycling as a sport to – as far as possible – hold the biggest events at the end of the year."
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.
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