At our December training camp – the start of preparations for 2019 – several of our riders sat down with Cyclingnews to talk about their hopes and aspirations for the new season.
Ellen van Dijk, who took the time trial world title in 2013, has a wide skillset and will be a strong addition to the new Trek-Segafredo Women’s Team. When asked about her main goals for the upcoming season van Dijk said: “Normally, I am focusing on the Classics and team time trialling and time trialling. Also, I want to be an important team player, setting up a sprint or closing a gap but next year I want to be really good in the Spring.”
Whilst we don’t expect to see Lizzie Deignan competing in the upcoming Spring Classics campaign after giving birth late last year, the team can count on many other riders with big Classics wins to their names, including Ellen van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini, who have both won the revered Tour of Flanders in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Van Dijk revealed:
We have a really strong Classics team with Elisa. I think that all the riders here can ride a good Classics campaign. I hope that we can have a really good start with the team.
Likewise, former Italian national champion Elisa Longo Borghini can’t wait to start the season with her new team: “I look to next year with goose bumps. I’m so looking forward to start racing.” For Longo Borghini, it’s the Ardennes Classics that she has her sights firmly set on; “I would like to be in a good condition for the Ardennes because it’s two years now that I’ve missed the condition there and it’s like I have itchy feet.” For the third year, the Women’s WorldTour will feature the triple crown of Ardennes races – Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
She also has high hopes in her home race, the Giro Rosa (Giro d’Italia) after disappointment in 2018. “I would like to be good there [at the Giro]. This doesn’t mean that I’ll win the Giro, but I want to be in my best shape and play the game instead of suffering there.”
Lizzie Deignan, who won the World Championship road race in 2015, was the first rider announced for the team back at the Tour de France in July. Deignan will be targeting the second half of the season, including the World Championships on her local roads in Yorkshire. The last year has been a big change for her, but certainly a positive one:
I really love it again. It feels like I'm starting all over again. When I'm out on the bike, I feel like a junior again and that's really exciting.
The men’s team has made several exciting signings for 2019 to strengthen both the Classics squad as well as general classification hopes. The most notable addition is Richie Porte who is expected to lead the team at the Tour de France. Meanwhile, Bauke Mollema’s ambitions will shift to the Giro d’Italia: “That’s my big goal for the first part of the season. I’ve only done it twice; my first Grand Tour and last year, where I finished seventh.”
Now, I’m even more motivated to do it. I even asked the team to go to the Giro myself. The team was not expecting that I would want to go, but I asked them. I’m really looking forward to going back to it.
The course suits me well. There are three TTs but they are all pretty hard with climbs and the first and last ones are quite short also and the long one has a steep climb in the middle. It’s not really a TT for the flat specialists, it’s for the climbers who can do a good TT.”