In the Bunch caught up with the 28-year-old, who finished sixth at the opening stage, and chatted to him about the year so far ahead of his next international challenge, the GP du Canton d’Argovie, in Switzerland.
Q. A fall prevented you from competing Paris-Nice in March. What were your thoughts after the crash?
A. I was disappointed to leave Paris-Nice early, but also really disappointed that a concussion kept me out of one my favourite races, Milan-San Remo, and put me in a race against time to be ready for the other big monuments, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris–Roubaix. This small crash affected my classics campaign this year in a big way.
Q. What did your recovery entail?
A. Luckily nothing was broken, but I did dislocate my right shoulder and suffered a concussion. I was kept of the bike and from training for a week with minimal stimulation, to allow the brain to recover from the injury. And a lot of physio and rehabilitation exercises was needed on the shoulder. Luckily the shoulder didn’t affect me on the bike too much, but I wouldn’t have been able to swing a tennis racket for instance.
Q. Are there any after effects from the fall?
A. There are no left-over effects from this fall in particular. But the dislocation was due to an old bankcard lesion (fracture in the shoulder socket) from a crash in 2013. We will need to operate on the shoulder at the end of the season, to ensure it doesn’t dislocate again, where after I will need to be in an arm sling for six weeks again.
Q. You had a great start to the year when you won your first national title at the SA Road Race Championships in February. What are your thoughts on 2017 thus far?
A. Yes the national champs was a big goal again this year, and I am really proud I was able to pull it off this time. After that I had some ups and downs, and the classics didn’t really go the way I hoped. But now I feel good and ready for the second half of the season. There are plenty more opportunities.
Q. What were your highlights at the recent Tour of California?
A. It was good to sprint again for the win. It’s been quite a long time since I got to go for bunch sprints for myself, with the team supporting me. I made a few crucial mistakes in the sprints, but I think it’s was good to get into the rhythm again of sprinting.
Q. What were a few of the challenges you’ve had to overcome this year?
A. Not being able to train for a week, while the classics were fast approaching did set me back during them. After Paris-Roubaix I had a chance to take a break and refocus, to work on my shoulder and build my fitness up again. Tour of California was a good start to racing again, but I am looking forward to next races coming up.
Q. What are your goals for the remainder of the year?
A. Tour de Suisse is my next big race, after that I hope to make selection for the Tour de France team, and if all goes well there might be a chance that I will be riding Vuelta a España as well.