Maxim van Gils to aim for GC at Tour de Suisse: "The strange thing is that I never really tested myself in the high mountains"

24-year old Maxim van Gils has had stable development over the past years into a high level, but in 2024 he has truly took another step. The Lotto Dstny rider has been headlining the team's results and is one of the most successful riders of the year; and is now testing himself as a climber at the mountainous Tour de Suisse.

“On Tuesday (today's stage 3, ed.), a stage win is still the goal. Afterwards, we will go into the high mountains and I would like to go for the classification," van Gils said in conversation with Het Nieuwsblad. "At least if my feeling in the mountains is okay. A place around the top ten, possibly the top five would be nice." The Belgian knew what he was getting into coming to Switzerland, and is eager to see where the limits are.

Van Gils won the Vuelta a Andalucia (time-trial), and recently Eschborn-Frankfurt and the recent GP des Kantons Aargau. Furthermore he has finished on the podium of Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallone; whilst he also rode to fourth at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and seventh at Milano-Sanremo. He has proven himself as a very consistent and strong classics rider, and will have nothing short of five consecutive mountain stages (including the final time-trial) this week - with high altitude involved.

“The strange thing is that I never really tested myself in the high mountains afterwards. The level is so high everywhere among the pros. If you want to stand out, you have to specialize," he continues. "That is why I have now started to develop myself more as a puncher. I am curious myself. Sometimes those really long mountain passes are a problem. I have to see the top of the mountain to pull myself up to it. If I don't see it, I find it mentally difficult.”

Although he rested during the month of May outside competition, he returned firing all cylinders and could aim for stage wins as well this week. “After Eschborn-Frankfurt I had planned a break. First a week's holiday at Lake Garda. I would have preferred to leave my bike at home there. Only because my girlfriend, who likes to cycle, insisted, I still rode my bike for two or three hours a day.”

“Then I went on an altitude training in the Sierra Nevada. I was really not in good shape there. I had to do a few blocks - “really not difficult”, according to my trainer - and I was completely exhausted." With the Tour de France also soon, he will be using the Swiss race as preparation to get to the perfect level ahead of the Grand Depart in Florence.

"I find those climbs in the Sierra so long. I find 10, 15 kilometers ideal, but they go to 25 kilometers and more. I think I just can't handle the altitude that well. But apparently that doesn't mean you can't have a good response from an altitude training camp."

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