Classics and championships
With a year of experience at the highest level in his pocket, the novelty has worn off for Bert-Jan Lindeman. Nevertheless, the strong rider from Assen in the Netherlands is as impatient as a rookie to start the season. 'I get excited just from the idea that Omloop Het Niewsblad, [the opening event of the Belgian cycling season] is happening soon' he said in mid-December in Benidorm during the first training camp of Vacansoleil-DCM.
'That is about motivation. But also about insecurity. I hope for an early result; that might take away that anxiety. At the Grand Prix La Marseillaise and the Star of Bessèges I want to be ready to go, straight away. That means you are assured of a place on the team for the spring races and you will find yourself at the starting line feeling good about yourself.
In the spring classics, the rider from the Dutch province of Drenthe wants to show people what he is made of. If the omens are not wrong, Vacansoleil-DCM will be at the start of those races with a team which is able to compete for the big prizes. 'Our classics team is strong and motivated', Lindeman already noted. 'With Björn Leukemans and Juan Antonio Flecha, we have rock solid riders for that type of work. And he has his own ambitions as well, of course. 'Do not expect any provocative talk from me. I do have ideas, but I don't want them to be written down.'
The team-building days in Maastricht and the training camp on the Spanish coast proved that there is a strong mutual bond, according to the sophomore professional rider. 'We would do anything for each other. You could tell from Flecha, that he immediately wanted to make something of it. He had a very open attitude right from the start, and immediately took the lead at appropriate times.
It is clear from Lindeman's solid preparations in winter, that it is very important to him to achieve results in March and April. He stayed in Spain for weeks, almost months to create a solid foundation, with team mate Lieuwe Westra. 'We have the same ideas about training and do not destroy each other when we ride. In the Netherlands you have to deal with frost, rain and black ice. In Spain you can always do your training, and all you have to focus on is cycling.'
Nothing seems to be stopping him from a successful continuation of his fledgling career. '2012 was a great learning year, and I became a lot wiser. It gave me an idea of where I want to head. With the classics, the Dauphiné and the Vuelta, I had a taste of everything. Young riders are given a change in this team. Take Wesley Kreder. He even won when he was an intern. In the first year doing anything more than completing the race is a bonus, but in the second year you have to top that', Lindeman realises.
After third place last year, the Dutch Championship may be something for the man from Drenthe to look out to. 'Championships, there is something special about them' he says as his eyes sparkle. 'I want that red, white and blue jersey one day. I want to specialise in the classical work, with longer distances. The tour work is too controlled. In the sprint or the longer climbs, I don't quite have what it takes to stand out. When I am in a breakaway, I want to feel like I have a chance; not that people are playing with me. But just to come back to the Dutch Championships: in the under-18s I already reached second place once, and last year I came third. I want to win the Dutch Championship one day.'