The 24-year-old talked about his first day at Paris-Nice and getting used to racing in France ahead of his debut in Le Tour.

“Paris-Nice is my first stage race in France since the Trophée Morbihan, which I won as a junior back in 2018, so it makes me very happy to be here after all this time. I have always followed Paris-Nice since a young age, and I know almost all the winners of this prestigious event. What I could notice in all these years watching it on TV was that it’s one of the spring’s hardest races and you need to be at a very high level to fight for victory.

It’s exciting to take part in this race, as I began thinking about it since my winter preparation. I would have loved to have the individual time trial up the Col d’Èze, which is such an iconic climb, as it would have been kind of similar to the last stage of the Tour de France, but even in its absence, I like the course.

Having a team time trial is cool, I like it when a race includes this discipline. The weekend stages are also very interesting and I’m sure those climbs will make for a great show for all those watching. The parcours here has changed over the years and I like how it evolved to what we have these days.

Racing in France is completely different, and I could see that from my first day in the race.

The fans are more hyped, there’s more media attention, the bunch is more nervous, and even the roads feel more rough than in Belgium or Spain, for example. We are lucky to have Tom Steels in the car, not only because he’s one of the most experienced sports directors in the peloton, but also because he knows France and the roads so well. He competed a lot here and outside the race he tells us a lot of stories about back then and you just feel the way he is reliving those races. It’s a real honor to have him with us.

I don’t think I’m mistaking when I say that this week is maybe the most important one of my spring campaign. Getting used to racing here, discovering the roads that will be used in the Tour de France and going on a recon of the last stages we will have in July after the conclusion of Paris-Nice are all important elements that can make the difference later.”


Photo credit: ©Alex Broadway / Getty Images

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