Do you feel safe in the peloton and on the streets after the recent many violent falls in the races?
It’s definitely safer in the peloton than on the streets (laughs). But there is also a reason for that: In the race, I know: only professionals are at the start today. And even if there are heavy falls from time to time – training on the road is and remains much more dangerous. You always have to expect everything. The natural enemy of the cyclist is road traffic.
Are the many falls only due to the negligence of the race organizers and the association, or is everyone driving with a knife between their teeth after the Corona break?
Races are actually very safe. Which does not mean that something cannot be improved as well. But the fact that so much attention is now being drawn to it is certainly also due to the fact that cycling is currently very much in focus because there are many more races running in parallel than usual. And unfortunately falls seem to interest more than the sport, the race itself.
What could be done better and where are compromises possible between the interest in action and safety?
That cannot be said in general terms. Every track is different, every race too, and not everything that one sees as dangerous is felt by another. The best thing would be: We all always remember that health comes first.
After starting again, you have completed the Tour of Poland and Wallonia. What is life like in the sealed-off bubble, or does the concept work?
It’s a good place to live, and the concept works. In terms of sport, I also feel well prepared for the tour. The race kilometers in Poland were important and the first results have already been seen in Wallonia. The punch and the liveliness are slowly coming – in our team, too, cooperation works better and better. One victory, two second places and a third place for me show that we are well on the way to the tour.
What are your personal goals for the Tour of France?
I’m really looking forward to the Grand Depart in Nice. When the whole peloton starts rolling, it will give you goose bumps. Also because we all worked for it for so long and the dry spell dragged on much longer than we could all initially imagine. Something that makes the tour even more important than usual. For all of us, drivers, teams, sponsors, all cycling, it is immensely important that we have this presence. And then of course there is the joy of three very exciting weeks together with a team that will certainly have a few opportunities to set one or the other accent.
It has been two years since you won your first Tour de France stage win in Roubaix and the images of your tears of joy went around the world. Do these emotions still influence your being as a professional cyclist today?
In any case. The emotions and memories of that day are still very present to me. They shaped my motivation and fighting spirit even during the difficult phase of lack of prospects during the Corona break. My motivation to achieve such a success again is enormous.
It can be assumed that professional cycling will continue to have great difficulties at the end of this crisis year. How happy are you to have your two-year contract valid until the end of 2021?
Extremely happy. I cannot deny that I find this to be a beneficial buffer in these times. But there is no such thing as one hundred percent security because nobody knows how the situation will develop in the coming year. It is uncertain whether cycling can continue to the known extent with these sponsors and budgets. Drivers with an expiring contract and without great success could run into problems.