WorldTeam Maxim Van Gils: “It feels like the Tour de Suisse is the real start of my pro career.”
Today, the Tour de Suisse kicks off with an individual time trial in Frauenfeld. For Lotto Soudal rider Maxim Van Gils, this eight-day WorldTour event will only be his second race since he turned pro at the start of the year. Van Gils talks about his first months as a professional cyclist, which did not go as planned for the 21-year-old Belgian.
“I had a really good winter and an excellent training camp with the team but I started the season quite late due to the many races being cancelled early in the season. But at the Volta a Catalunya I could finally make my pro debut, immediately at WorldTour level”, Maxim Van Gils begins. “Despite several good stage results, I never felt on top of my game. Definitely uphill, I felt that I wasn’t racing at full strength. I quickly shifted focus towards the next races on my calendar, but then came that positive Covid test…”
Initially, Van Gils only suffered from light symptoms, but soon the young Belgian was forced to take a long period of complete rest.
Maxim Van Gils: “It wasn’t until a few days after the positive test that I felt miserable and I was exhausted after every little effort. I had to spend more than ten days in bed. Afterwards, I slowly but surely picked up training again with sessions ranging from 30 minutes to an hour and a half. But I still suffered from sore muscles and pressure on my chest. And something like that doesn’t make you jump on the bike with a lot of confidence. Luckily, I haven’t had any symptoms since a month and a half now. I opted for a 14-day training camp in Tenerife, to build my shape and I am glad I stayed there for such a long period because I really made big progress there.”
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Despite the setbacks, Van Gils remained optimistic and also saw a positive side to the story.
“Honestly, it was really hard to cope with the feeling of starting from scratch after a winter full of sacrifices and long training rides. I couldn’t show the shape I built up during winter and that was quite difficult. But I didn’t let it ruin my mood, I kept on thinking positive. I really used the quarantine period to recharge the batteries - both physically and mentally – towards the summer, where I really want to show myself.”
With the Tour de Suisse – a race that greatly appeals to Van Gils – the young Lotto Soudal rider will immediately take part in a tough stage race.
“In a way, it feels like the Tour de Suisse really marks the start of my pro career. It is immediately a tough race, but a very beautiful one. At the beginning of the season, I already showed my interest to participate in the Tour de Suisse. There are a few finishes for punchers, which should really suit me. But most of all, I hope to feel like a pro again on the uphill sections. The main focus is to find the good feeling but I would also like to show myself in an early breakaway for example”, Maxim Van Gils concludes.
Images: Photo News.