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04/24/2019

Stage winner interview with Christopher Juul-Jensen (Mitchelton-Scott)

The Danish rider duped the whole field to win the rain-soaked fourth stage to Gstaad with a spectacular solo ride ahead of the sprinters.

Tour de Suisse: Despite the rain, was it your best day on the bike?
Christopher Juul-Jensen: Even with the rain! (laughs)
For someone who grew up in Ireland and lives in Denmark, the rain is part and parcel of it – cycling in the rain doesn’t bother me.
So it was definitely my best rainy day – and my best day on the bike so far! (laughs)

TdS: How well do you remember the rain-soaked fourth stage of the Tour de Suisse 2018?
CJJ: I remember it very well, since I won! (laughs)
I mean, nobody – including me – would have believed that the breakaway group could keep its lead right through to the finish line. The fact that it worked is unbelievable!

TdS: There were six of you in the breakaway group for almost the entire day. At what point did you think you could maintain the lead and even win the stage?
CJJ: Every time you watch a cycling race on TV, the frontrunners are caught nine times out of ten.
Out of the 150 km that I spent in the lead during the race, I only believed for the last 80 metres that it would work.

TdS: On the ascent to Saanenmöser, there were a number of attacks from the chasing group. What did you think of those hectic moments?
CJJ: Hm, I had just come from the Giro d’Italia. It might sound a bit strange, but after a three-week tour, I’m usually in good form.
During the ascent to Saanenmöser, I felt that I could trust my Grand Tour diesel motor. When the other riders launched their attacks, I kept to my own rhythm.

TdS: You then caught up with Nans Peters (AG2R) on the descent and were able to open a gap. Things got tight at the airport; the sprinters leading the field had you in sight. How did the last few kilometres at the airport feel?
CJJ: I think what made the difference was that I was able to keep pushing during the descent and handled the wet descent very well. I had nothing to lose.
The last three kilometres were awful! From the moment you turned onto the airport, you could see the whole route. And the road wasn’t just open, it was also wide. I couldn’t hide anywhere! (laughs)
Thankfully, my sporting director gave me encouragement and motivation over radio. I said to myself, just give it your all, you can’t have anything left to give when you cross the finish line. If it works then all the better, and you’ll at least have nothing to regret!

TdS: That must have made it even more satisfying to ride solo across the finish line, then?
CJJ: Yes, exactly! And since I don’t win many races, I made every single pose that I’d dreamed of making when I won. (laughs)

TdS: What made you decide to try to join the breakaway group in this particular stage to Gstaad?
CJJ: For Michi Albasini and me, it was clear that if we wanted to try something, it had to be in one of the early stages. On the morning before the race, someone in the team told us that it would be a wet day and that we should definitely have someone in the leading groups.
I said to myself that there was no better way to stay warm than to ride with the frontrunners. (laughs)

TdS: What does your schedule look like for the 2019 season? What are you focusing on? 
CJJ: My first focus is on the Spring Classics, where I will ride for the team – and who knows, maybe I’ll get another opportunity like at the Tour de Suisse!

TdS: What triumph do you dream of? Which victory do you want to add to your accolades?
CJJ: After this kind of victory, you obviously get hungry. I dream of repeating my efforts in Gstaad at the Tour de France too.

TdS: Thank you very much Chris, and all the best for the upcoming season!

 

 

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