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Walscheid inspired by Campenaerts in time trial switch

ORLEANS FRANCE MARCH 07 Max Walscheid of Germany and Team Cofidis reacts after cross the finishing line during the 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 2 a 1592km stage from Auffargis to Orlans ParisNice on March 07 2022 in Orleans France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Max Walscheid in action for his new team Cofidis at Paris-Nice (Image credit: Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images)

Much has been made of the revival of the 'do everything' rider, with stars such as Tadej Pogačar, Wout van Aert, and Julian Alaphilippe dispensing with the age of strict specialisation and triumphing in sprints, time trials, mountains, hills, cobbles – you name it.

At the very top level, the days of the best riders being pigeonholed into one narrow specialisation are seemingly over. Filippo Ganna, for instance, has said this year that he's widening his scope beyond time trialling – something already evidenced by his competing in an uphill sprint at the Tour de la Provence and a team leadership role at Milan-San Remo.

These days, more and more riders are adding extra strings to their bows and broadening their horizons. Cofidis sprinter Max Walscheid is among them, having worked on his time trialling in recent years to the extent where he's now able to mix it up with the best of the discipline.

Last year, the 1.99m tall German finished sixth at the Giro d'Italia's closing time trial, fifth at the European Championships, and then 11th at the Worlds, beating the likes of Jos Van Emden, Nelson Oliveira, and Rémi Cavagna in Bruges. Later that week, he was part of Germany's gold medal-winning TTT relay squad, too.

"I think last year I made a certain step which enabled me to ride on a level where I could do good time trials," Walscheid explained to Cyclingnews recently.

"Maybe it was also the year before, but last year I also really focussed on it in terms of material, position, et cetera. I think I definitely still have the same sprint ability as before but in general I could raise my level as a rider a little bit.

"Of course, I'll keep working on that and definitely this year I want to do good time trials and I have already my eye on the National, European and World Championships."

The mix of sprinting and time trialling is something of a strange combination, with the required explosive anaerobic power needed for the former seemingly at odds with the measured threshold effort of the latter. Walscheid has managed to keep the balance, though.

Walscheid said that it was Victor Campenaerts – himself a convert, having turned from time trials to the cobbled Classics this year – who gave him the encouragement to work on the discipline.

"In the gym I do the same values as before. Actually, this year, in the winter I did a new squat record, so I don't think that I lost those fast-twitch fibres," Walscheid said. "But it's more that in the past years I was also maybe busier with improving the climbing, having struggled a little bit there.

"So, of course, that is not my speciality, but I could take some steps there and now I have a general level of anaerobic threshold which enables me to do a good time trial. Of course, if there are corners and it's a little bit explosive, then that also suits my sprinting abilities.

"Actually, it was Victor Campenaerts who got the [ball] rolling because we did some tests in a training camp and I delivered pretty good numbers. He asked me why I never really went for a time trial. I think I also needed that little bit of energy from outside to get it going."

MONTLUCON FRANCE MARCH 09 Max Walscheid of Germany and Team Cofidis sprints during 80th Paris Nice 2022 Stage 4 a 134km individual time trial from Domrat to Montluon ParisNice WorldTour on March 09 2022 in Montlucon France Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Walscheid in time trial mode at Paris-Nice (Image credit: Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images)

Walscheid added that his new skill also gives him a chance to ride for himself. At last year's Giro d'Italia, he was working for Giacomo Nizzolo in the sprints, while the time trials that bookended the race let him take his own chance.

This season, Walscheid, Campenaerts and Nizzolo have been scattered around the WorldTour following the demise of Qhubeka-NextHash.

While Campenaerts is helping to boost Lotto Soudal's Classics fortunes and Nizzolo has installed himself at the head of Israel-Premier Tech's ready-made sprint train, Walscheid has gone to French squad Cofidis.

"I think I dialled myself in here pretty well," Walscheid said. "Of course, in the beginning of the season, you have to adjust a lot. Like with the material, you need to get to know the people - the mechanics, the soigneurs, but I think it's all in a good way and I'm getting to know everybody.

"I would say in general yes," he answered when questioned on whether the team is a big change from his previous environs at Qhubeka and Sunweb.

"But also, if I talk to riders who have been in the team for a long time, like Kenneth Vanbilsen, they said that the team has opened up much more to, let's say, the international way of working.

"And I think our standard is also pretty good, but of course the culture of the team is still French like in terms of the language, which I still need to learn. But yes, I think otherwise we are a WorldTour team."

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.