Tour de France 2022: Interview with Alpecin-Deceuninck sport director Christoph Roodhooft
Just a few days until the Tour de France kicks of in Copenhagen. Right before the start of the 2022 edition Alpecin Cycling spoke to Christoph Roodhooft, sports director of Team Alpecin-Deceuninck, about the ambitions of the Pro Conti team.
Is the yellow jersey a goal for the team in the first week?
Last year it was, as well as the pink jersey at the Giro d’Italia this year. In the 2022 Tour it’s not realistic for us to work towards that and increase the pressure unnecessarily. If there is an opportunity, we will try to take it. But the yellow jersey is not our preferred goal.
What is the goal?
Our ambition is to win a stage. If we can do that we are happy.
What is the chance for Mathieu van der Poel in the individual time trial in Copenhagen?
Probably, there is a chance for Mathieu to win the time trial. But his chances are three to five per cent. In contrast: when he won the Mûr-de-Bretagne last year, his chances were 80 per cent beforehand.
Which stages suite Mathieu van der Poel or Jasper Philipsen?
There are a few. Especially in the first week there are many opportunities for us as a team. Besides the classic stages in France and Belgium, I think the two stages in Denmark should suit us.
You don’t expect the classic bunch sprint on stages two and three?
Denmark is a dangerous terrain for sprinters. The hills are a bit too long for them, and you have to be very attentive all day because of the wind from the sea, the changes of direction and the small roads. The peloton can quickly break up.
Who do you consider to be the absolute strongest sprinter in the field?
On paper, it’s definitely Fabio Jakobsen and he proved it again at the Tour of Belgium. Normally you need a bit of luck as a sprinter, but he was the absolute strongest in the classic bunch sprint. We will still try to beat him – with Jasper and the whole team.
What distinguishes the fifth stage of the Tour from a normal edition of Paris-Roubaix?
The peloton is completely different. At Paris-Roubaix there are riders at the start who want to ride the race at all costs. It’s completely different in the fifth stage of the Tour. I’m sure more than half of the peloton are just happy when the stage is over. Their goal is to make sure that they, or their leaders, don’t lose any time. The group of riders fighting for victory will be so much smaller than at Roubaix. We will see two races in the race.
“I don’t believe there is a added value”
How important is an early success in a Grand Tour and how does it change the mood in the team? Do the riders then give the much quoted “110 per cent”?
I don’t believe there is a so-called “added value” through a victory. A rider can only give 100 per cent. I would rather say that if you don’t succeed, the performance decreases – maybe to 95 per cent or even less.
Could the green jersey become a goal for the team during the Tour?
The green jersey is always a bit in the back of my mind – I have to admit that. But it is also unpredictable, especially at the beginning of a Grand Tour, how the stages will go and what the score will be after a few days. For the time being, we won’t make any additional efforts to fight for it or even adjust our tactics accordingly.
What does it mean for a team to enter the race without GC riders?
Personally, I don’t like riding for the overall classification. You only have one goal to chase in the three and a half weeks. We, on the other hand, have the opportunity to win 21 times with our strategy. For me, that makes it much more exciting and varied.
How flexible can team tactics be?
We make our plans before the tour for every single stage. And then, of course, we adapt from day to day, depending on the course of the race and the current physical condition of the riders.
How big is the fear in the peloton of a Corona wave?
Nobody is longing for it, but I think it will be unstoppable.