The young Dane from Team Sunweb was part of the first breakaway group over the passes Furka and Klausen on the king’s stage and was able to successfully counter Richie Portes’ attack from the field, to finally win a solo victory in Gommiswald.
Tour de Suisse: How well do you remember the royal stage of the Tour de Suisse 2018?
Soren Kragh Andersen: I remember it very well, as it was the biggest victory of my career. This was definitely a big day for me.
TdS: Of the 18 riders who were originally in the leading group, only five were able to escape to the finish line before the peloton. At what point did you think that you could stay at the top or even win a stage?
SKA: We were a big outlier group with some good climbers. My first goal was to stay with it during the first long ascent, the Furka Pass. From then on I took it one step at a time. I was very happy to have mastered the second climbing section (the Klausenpass) together with the best. Here it became clear to us that we had gained a clear lead and that we could perhaps maintain it. Some, like Gorka Izagire, were pushing hard, as they were competing for a place in the overall classification. About 40 kilometres before the finish I started to think about the fight for the stage win. I knew that the last ascent was short and steep. I was able to do this because I am rather heavy but extremely explosive.
TdS: You are still relatively young – how difficult is it to get the opportunity within your team to ride the royal stage as a soloist?
SKA: The team has more and more confidence in me, and our team leaders for the overall classification are great – they don’t want us to hang on to them all the time. (laughs)
If they don’t need so much help during a stage and one of us younger team members sees a chance, then let’s take it.
TdS: Later you were able to win an impressive second place at the time trial in Bellinzona, directly behind Stefan Küng. Did you expect this success towards the end of the tour?
SKA: That was also a surprise for me – just like the stage win. The Tour de Suisse is a tough race – nine days. I was very tired at the end.
I had a good plan for the time trial, which finally worked out.
Together with the team we had worked on the right position for the time trial in winter, both on the track and in the wind tunnel. That helped me a lot.
I was incredibly happy to finish the stage in second place behind Stefan Küng, one of the world’s best time trialists.
TdS: You are a very versatile cyclist. You do well on mountain stages, you are an excellent sprinter and also perform well in time trials. Can you imagine following in the footsteps of your teammate Tom Dumoulin as an overall classification driver in the future?
SKA: It’s hard to say. I’m not like Tom. He is very different in his own way and has developed into a unique cyclist. I don’t think I could ever drive like him. But maybe I could develop into an overall class rider on shorter, one-week stage races with less long, not so extremely steep climbing sections. But now I’m concentrating on the classics for now.
TdS: Your brother Asbjorn, who is two years older, is also riding for Team Sunweb this season. Will you also ride together in some races?
SKA: Yeah, it’s really great that my brother is on the same team And in the spring we competed together at some of the classics in Belgium.
TdS: What is your schedule for the 2019 season? What are you concentrating on?
SKA: In spring, the classics were the focus of attention. I will also be back at the Tour de Suisse, also to prepare for the Tour de France, where I will be supporting our team. And then I hope that I will still be fit for the World Championships in Yorkshire.
TdS: What victories do you dream of? What other victory do you really want to win?
SKA: My dream is to win one of the monuments I am still far from that and I will have to train hard. But that’s my goal. If I could choose, it would be the Tour of Flanders. But I also really like Milan-Sanremo. This year I would be happy to win a time trial.
TdS:Many thanks to Soren. All the best for the coming season, see you in June!