Kasper Asgreen slumps on the sofa.
He starts this season as Tour of Flanders champion, improving on his second place finish two years before winning a very important one and cementing his place in the sport’s history.
“Obviously there are still some interviews to do and some photo ops to do,” the Dane says of the difference between this season-opening media day and the previous ones.
But really, at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl, there are more winners than non-winners, and the level required to be deemed worthy to wear the blue stripe means there’s little time to dwell on the career-defining achievements.
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Most mere mortals would dine from a Tour of Flanders victory until the day they died, sure of their knowledge, legacy and career set. But that’s the difference between professional cyclists and civilians.
“No,” comes the blunt answer to whether winning De Ronde removes any pressure on Asgreen’s career and everything else from then on is a bonus. “I like to win races and I hope… that I will continue to win races?”
The 26-year-old is in a playful mood. Secured in his long-term contract until 2024, he jokes at his own expense and his Scandinavian drawl mimics the laid-back posture of his long frame hanging over the sofa in the Calpe hotel conference room in which we find ourselves.
“I appreciate [winning] so yeah, obviously I’m going to keep trying,” he said evenly. “But yeah, maybe I’ll never win again. We will see. I hope not,” he laughs.
Having a long contract is always a good peace of mind, continues Asgreen: “I’ve been lucky so far in my career that I haven’t really had contract negotiations through to the end. I I’ve always had quite long contracts and they’ve been extended quite early every time I’ve had to extend them, so I’ve been very lucky with that and hopefully that will continue.”
As for this final year of his blossoming career, it will look a lot like his 2021 campaign. The classics will be front and center with the addition of the Amstel Gold Race, canceled last year, and which Asgreen has never ran before.
“After this preparation for the Tour de France this summer, then in the fall, I will try to leave for the World Championships”, confirms the Dane.
At the Tour de France, Asgreen will have the chance, thanks to an opening time trial, a discipline in which he excels, to win a yellow jersey in his native Denmark, with the Grand Départ being held in the capital Copenhagen.
“It’s been a few years since the Tour de France started with a time trial…I think the last time was Düsseldorf in Germany,” he begins, “and then he happens to be in Denmark, that’s obviously great, but the fact that the tour starts with a time trial, I think, anywhere in the world, which would have been one of my big Goals.
“It will also be for the other best time trials in the world,” he acknowledges, “so I think the level is going to be incredibly high because there’s a yellow jersey up for grabs and it’s been so long had a yellow jersey to win for the time trials.
“It will be difficult, obviously it will be a great experience for the Tour to be in Denmark, but in terms of motivation it doesn’t change much to be honest. I just think it will be a really special and really fun experience. “
If he had to choose between a yellow jersey this summer or a rainbow jersey a few months later in Australia, what would he choose?
“Fortunately, I don’t have to choose, huh?” ” he answers. “If I can get one we’ll all be very happy, if I don’t…that’s probably the most likely scenario. And there’s a lot of guys who want those two things. If I can just make one, I’ll be thrilled, that’s for sure, I don’t give myself the luxury of choosing.
There is another luxury that Asgreen has so far denied itself.
“I didn’t watch the whole race or like the last two hours back,” he said of his 2021 Tour of Flanders victory. “I watched a few clips here and there but I didn’t really reviewed the race.”
Chances are there will be many more race-winning races that Asgreen will have bookmarked to watch after this flourishing cycling career comes to an end.