Kasper Asgreen readies himself for 'insanely high' level of opening day Tour de France time trial on native Danish soil
The Dane will tacke the Classics before trying for the opening yellow jersey of this summer's Tour de France
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Kasper Asgreen slouches down on the sofa.
He begins this season as a Tour of Flanders champion, improving on his second-place two years prior to win a properly big one and cementing his place within the history of the sport.
"Obviously there are a few more interviews to do and there are a few more photoshoots to do," the Dane says of the difference between this season-opening media day compared to past 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 strip means there is little time to dwell on career-defining achievements.
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Most mere mortals would dine off a Tour of Flanders victory until the day they die, safe in their knowledge their legacy and career are set. But that's the difference between professional cyclists and civilians.
"No," comes the abrupt answer to whether winning De Ronde removes any pressure from Asgreen's career and everything else from this point on is a bonus. "I like to win races and hopefully...I will keep winning races?"
The 26-year-old is in a playful mood. Secure in his long-term contract until 2024, he makes jokes at his own expense and his Scandinavian drawl mimics the laid-back posture of his long frame dangling over the couch in the conference room of the Calpe hotel we find ourselves in.
"I like [winning] so yeah, I will obviously keep trying," he says matter of factly. "But yeah, maybe I'll never win again. We will see. I hope not," he laughs.
Having a long contract is always good peace of mind, Asgreen continues: "I've been lucky so far in my career that I haven't really had any down to the wire contract negotiations. I've always been on fairly long contracts and they've been extended quite early whenever I had to extend them so I've been very fortunate with that and I hope it'll keep going."
As for this latest year of his blossoming career, it will look much the same as his 2021 campaign. The Classics will be the main focus with the addition of the Amstel Gold Race, cancelled last year, and which Asgreen has never raced before.
"After that preparation for the Tour de France over the summer and then in the fall I'll try to go for the World Championships again," the Dane confirms.
At the Tour de France Asgreen will have the chance, courtesy of an opening day time trial, a discipline he excels in, to nab a yellow jersey in his native Denmark, the Grand Départ being held in the capital of Copenhagen.
"It's been quite a few years since the Tour de France started with a time trial...I think the last time was Dusseldorf Germany," he begins, "and then it 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 that would have been a big objective of mine.
"It will also be for the other top time triallists around the world," he acknowledges, "so I think the level is going to be insanely high because there's a yellow jersey up for grabs and it's been so long that there's been a yellow jersey up for grabs for the time triallists.
"It'll be difficult, obviously, it's going to be a big experience that the Tour's in Denmark but motivation-wise it doesn't change much to be honest. I just think it's gonna be a really special and really fun experience."
If he had to choose between a yellow jersey this summer or a rainbow jersey a couple of months later in Australia, what would he go for?
"Luckily, I don't have to pick eh?" he answers. "If I can get one we will all be really happy, if I get none...that's probably the most likely scenario. And there are a lot of guys who want those two things. If I can just achieve one of them, I'll be over the moon that's for sure. I don't give myself the luxury of picking."
There is another luxury Asgreen has thus far denied himself.
"I haven't watched the full race or like the last two hours back," he says of his 2021 Tour of Flanders victory. "I've watched a few clips here and there but I haven't actually re-watched the race."
Chances are, there will be many more victorious races Asgreen will have bookmarked to watch back after this flourishing cycling career is over.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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