Dylan van Baarle to Jumbo-Visma was one of the transfers of the winter, and today the Dutchman returns to his roots as he makes his debut with the Dutch team at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
'I'm still a bit in the shadows because I don't live in the Netherlands. I did get a lot of attention at the team presentation, but I can still go down the street just fine," van Baarle told Algemeen Dagblad. "When I cycle in the Netherlands, like during Christmas, they recognize a Jumbo rider and you get some encouragement. Furthermore, I don't feel that there is suddenly much more pressure on it."
PREVIEW | Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2023
Despite having won Paris-Roubaix and finished runner-up at the Tour des Flandres last season, in what can be argued to have been the most successful cobbled classics campaign, the 30-year old does not gather the same popularity as the likes of Wout van Aert or Mathieu van der Poel. This has a benefit in that he does not feel such pressure however.
"I get a lot of confidence that I can participate in those kinds of races. I always take that course with me. The confidence that I can win such competitions will never go away. It's on my hard drive and will always be there," he claims.
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Having defeated the Jumbo-Visma block last year, this season he joins them. Alongside the likes of Wout van Aert, Christophe Laporte and Tiesj Benoot it will be very complicated for rival teams to match the Dutch squad. However early on the focus is not yet on, van Baarle is testing his legs at Omloop, with his big goals lying later in the spring.
"Both (the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, ed.) win," he is certain of. "That is of course the ultimate. In Roubaix it had never really worked out. In Flanders I did it a few years in a row and I had been close before. And last year even closer. I hope I can repeat that. At least that I'm at the start with the same form."
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"How is this year's training compared to previous years at INEOS Grenadiers? Mathieu Heijboer is now my trainer again. That was already the case with the Rabobank (under-23's, ed.). I worked fewer hours this winter than in previous years" van Baarle concludes. "But I'm confident that Mathieu knows what he's doing. I still trained more than those other guys. Of course I sometimes come home fifteen or ten minutes later, but really planning to do an extra hour is no longer an option. I have to trust that they know what they are doing at Jumbo."
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