We met young Bert-Jan at the start of the year when he had just become a WorldTour professional with the Vacansoleil-DCM team, he was one of only two new Pro’s to be signed up after being an end of season stagiere. His first season went very well with the King of The Mountains jersey in the Etoile de Bessиges, getting in the long break in Paris-Roubaix, winning the Ronde van Drenthe, 3rd in the Dutch National championships and being very aggressive in his first Grand Tour; the Vuelta a Espaсa.
We managed to catch up with Bert-Jan at Vacansoleil-DCM’s pre-Christmas training camp in Benidorm.
Driving the break at Paris-Roubaix through the Bois de Wallers.
PEZ: How was your first year as a Pro?
Bert-Jan Lindeman: Up’s and down’s, good things, bad things. Well not a lot of bad things, but sometimes there were some eye openers, you know the things you can do and what you can’t. Like Paris-Roubaix was very good, I think for me, I got in that break and rode for a long time on the front of the group for my team mate. For me the disappointment was the Dauphine, you know it was all up hill and I think I was a little bit heavier than now. To go full power in the ProTour uphill was very difficult, I suffered all week, but I managed to ride it out but then that was it. You improve a lot, your body needs to get used to the effort and those kinds of things.
PEZ: During the Vuelta a Espaсa you must have been lighter?
Bert-Jan: Yes, yes in the Vuelta for instance I could do a bit of work for Tomasz Marczynski (Polish climber, winner of KOM in Murcia & Pologne 2012), so I was a lot better uphill, but it needs time to get there.
PEZ: Was it a plan to get in that break in Paris-Roubaix?
Bert-Jan: It was the plan, me and Fred Veuchelen were the guys for the break, just to be in the early break and to survive the Forrest (Trouйe d’Arenberg) and that was a good thing.
PEZ: When we spoke at the start of the year, you really wanted to ride Flanders.
Bert-Jan: No, not this year, but I really want to start there, that is my dream race, but I think it was a little bit too early as I had a tough program before; like a lot of Classics and also the Three days of De Panne and the team said it was better for me not to ride.
PEZ: What did you think of the new finish circuit of Flanders?
Bert-Jan: The circuit, ah! I did the training with the team, so I think it is very beautiful. If you were there on the course with all the tourists also training and everything and you see the big tent, you really feel like it’s a very big race. So for me that’s the race I really want to do.
PEZ: You were 3rd in the Dutch National championship, that was also a great ride.
Bert-Jan: Yea that was really special, the people, everything. It was almost a dream come true. I had the National championships and I was really, really good and it was good to get in the selection (winning break) in that race. It was a good group and all the team members were motivated and the team were very important.
Going very hard at the Nationals on Nikki Terpstra’s wheel
PEZ: Was that also a plan by the team?
Bert-Jan: I had to get in the early break to get to the circuit, but I just missed it, then you have to change to another role and then there was a crash and the win was for Terpstra and then my race was over.
Bert-Jan at the Dutch Nationals.
PEZ: The team must have been happy about your ride?
Bert-Jan: Yea, yea, there was a little bit about the team leader and the coach and the other riders, but about me everything was positive, I did my job very well, so…
PEZ: How did you feel riding your first three week stage race as a first year professional?
Bert-Jan: The first stages in the Vuelta for me were not so difficult, it was good, only the last five were really, really tough. You know with all the uphill finishes and everything.
In the break on Stage 7 at the Vuelta.
PEZ: You got in a lot of breaks in the middle week.
Bert-Jan: Yea, a couple of times. After Poland I had a little bit of a dip in my form and then it came up and then for the Vuelta I was really good. You don’t see it in the Vuelta because if you are not a specialist in climbing, or time trialing, or a sprinter, it’s really tough to get a result that people see. You get in a break, you try, but you almost never manage to stay to the end. So I think it was a good Vuelta. I learned that I can do three weeks of racing and I can be domestique and I can work and, how do you say…you show you have what’s needed to do it.
Bert-Jan on stage 9 of the 2012 Vuelta; Andorra to Barcelona.
PEZ: During the Vuelta did you lose weight?
Bert-Jan: Yes, I lost 2% of fat, I think that was about 2 to 3 kilo’s, it’s a lot eh! Normally for the Classics, when I’m good, I would be 70-71 kilo’s, my aim goal is around 70, but if I ride a lot in the mountains it will come down to 68, I was about that weight when I came out of the Vuelta.
PEZ: You were also picked to ride the World road race championships this year in Limbourg.
Bert-Jan: Yea that was really good. I think the organisation was great, the circuit, everything was good. Gilbert was the best, no doubt about it, I saw on television later how he attacked and the Belgian team worked all day for it. We (the Dutch team) got fifth, everybody worked, but there was nothing you could do about Gilbert, we were in the break with Gesink and De Kort and we tried, it was good.
PEZ: What was the high point of your season?
Bert-Jan: Ah! The high point would be winning in Drenthe, that’s my home province you know, it’s almost near my home, so that would be the high point. Winning is something special, that feeling.
Bert-Jan wins the Ronde van Drenthe.
PEZ: You also won the King of the Mountains in the Etoile de Bessиges, was that a surprise?
Bert-Jan: No, you go in the break one day and you take the points, then the next day you try to take some more, it wasn’t a surprise because I always train hard and a lot for the spring Classics, again if you can take points…yea for me the King of the Mountains, it’s nice to have the jersey, but it’s not like the feeling of a real victory. It’s nice to have the jersey and to wear it on the podium, but in the end you are riding for winning races.
PEZ: Which was your favourite race of the season?
Bert-Jan: Well I crashed there, but it was the Nieuwsblad, I really like that race you know with its parcours and everything. I crashed but it’s still my favourite race, I always have something in the start of the season, it’s the opening Classic and its special, yea I love that race.
PEZ: What was the low point of your first Pro season?
Bert-Jan: For me it was Milan-Sanremo, that was a real disappointment, because I was dropped at the point I didn’t expect to be dropped, I know the reason, but for me it was a real disappointment.
PEZ: Do you know your program for next year yet?
Bert-Jan: I go for the Spring Classics, everything including Flanders, I hope I can do like this year; Nieuwsblad, Flanders, Roubaix. Last year I didn’t do Flanders, but I hope I do it next year and also Gent-Wevelgem, I also like that race very much, really nice race and Amstel Gold Race, I did that this year and liked and I want to do Milan-Sanremo if the team let me, I want to do all the real Classics, that’s what I really like. Just the one day and it all has to come out. Also the kilometres, above 200 or 220 that’s something you can’t train for, I think now I can do that, maybe I still have to show it, but I think I can do it. Like in the National championships, they were 220 or 230, I’ve not shown it a lot, like Leukemans or somebody, but I can grow into it.
PEZ: Do you have any regrets?
Bert-Jan: No, I was really happy with the team, they let me do everything; climbing, Classics, working for the sprinter, this season I had everything; a big tour, short stage races, everything. Regrets? Only maybe I trained too hard in the winter last year, not in the hours, but too hard effort, maybe that was a mistake.
PEZ: What training are you doing at the moment?
Bert-Jan: Mostly just hours and small efforts.
PEZ: I heard you were giving your group a hard time?
Bert-Jan: Ah! You know maybe for me its better not to have a training camp with the team. You know I’m insecure, if I’m next to someone I go a little harder and harder and a bit harder, you know. Its less than before when I was younger, but a lot of times I’m looking for the breaking point of the rider next to me, I’m always looking for that, they say that gives you a some kind of conformation where you are (in training), because in the winter you train for three months and then you only know you are good is in Bessиges. Actually today I gave them a bit of difficulty; you know I wasn’t going to leave it at the side. Mirko was sitting there, like saying, “now we go, now we go” he was teasing me, so I said to him “if we are going to play, then we are going to play!” I’ve done a lot of hours in Spain, really a lot of hours, if you do that many hours easy and then with the team; 3 or 4 days of power and then your body gets used to the power and then it almost comes like natural.
PEZ: Would there be a chance of riding the Tour de France?
Bert-Jan: No I don’t do the Tour because there are so many good riders in the team, normally I wouldn’t do the Tour, the Giro d’Italia is too early after the Classics and if I came bad out of the Giro then the rest of the season could be gone. But then at the end of the season a Grand Tour is good for the next year, so I hope I can do the Vuelta, that would be the best. After Amstel I would have a rest period of two weeks I hope I would ride Dauphine, that kind of stuff before the National championships. Last year I did Dauphine, it was a lot of suffering, then one week very hard training and then I was very good in the Nationals, I want to do that again because they are something special; the Nationals. I’ve been cycling since I was 7 years old and I think in the top ten I have had every place, but never win. I’ve been 2nd, then this year I was 3rd, I think in cyclo-cross I was 4th, in the Nieuwelingen category for 15 to 16 year old I was 5th and Twice 5th in the juniors and in cross 7th and 8th and in the last year I was 6th, so I’ve had just about every place except the win. So it has to be sometime that I have to win it. Well I don’t know if I will win it, but I want to. The 2013 course is similar to this year with some uphills; it’s in Limburg, a bit like Amstel.
PEZ: Last year you said you would buy a new car and maybe move to Belgium, have you?
Bert-Jan: No, no new car, I still have the Fiat Punto, its only 2007 it’s not old, I don’t make that kind of money yet. If I get a better contract or win Flanders or the National championships; I’ll buy a new car. I didn’t get an new house, since that training camp (January 2012) I’ve been in Spain 102 days and then with the race days and the days in Belgium, then I’m only at home for maybe 50 days, so I don’t really need a new house.
Not a bad first year in the WorldTour, let’s see what Bert-Jan can do next year, maybe he will be buying that new car?