Leemreize wants to continue form in Romania after 'fantastic Giro experience'
Gijs Leemreize will start riding multi-day races again this weekend in the Sibiu Cycling Tour. To his surprise, the 22-year-old Dutchman was at the start of his first grand tour in May. The level that Leemreize reached there, he would like to bring to the four-day race in Romania. "I'm going to see how far I can get in the rankings."
On Sunday, May 1, Leemreize finished 63rd in the Tour of Romandie's final climbing time trial. "That morning, sports director Frans Maassen knocked on my hotel room door. Chris Harper had not recovered in time. As I was on the reserve list, I was still allowed to participate in the Giro d'Italia. I immediately had to think about Chris. After some time, the realisation that I was on the eve of my first grand tour started to sink in. I absolutely did not expect it."
A few days later, in the Hungarian capital Budapest, Leemreize embarked on a real journey of discovery. After all, the rider had never ridden a three-week stage race before. "I had no clue how my body would react to such an effort. We had to wait and see how I would perform at the end of the Giro. I expected an increasing lack of energy as the Giro progressed."
"Hopefully I can show my qualities again"
The opposite turned out to be true. During the Giro's second part, Leemreize showed he has a 'big engine'. "Because the team abandoned its classification ambitions after a few days, I was allowed to seize my own opportunities in certain stages. I finished in the top ten four times in the last ten stages while I was already sixth on Etna. Twice I was close to a stage win. Of course I was disappointed that I did not succeed, but afterwards I am delighted with what I have shown. It gave me a lot of confidence. It was a fantastic experience."
Meanwhile, Leemreize has recovered from the three-week tour's efforts. "I only noticed the tiredness when I got home. You live in a fixed rhythm for a few weeks. Fortunately, I have had time to recover. With the national championships in my legs, I now head to the Sibiu Cycling Tour with a lot of confidence. Hopefully I can show my qualities there."
The Romanian race starts with an ultra-short prologue over 2.3 kilometres. "You don't see that very often anymore. On the final day we will even ride two stages. That morning, we will start with a climbing time trial; later that day we will ride a 100-kilometre stage. The first stage is also treacherous. We will have to deal with almost four thousand altitude metres that day."
Leemreize knows what the team's goals are in the Romanian stage race. "Chris and I aim for a good classification. David Dekker will focus on the sprints and if the finish is a bit tougher, Pascal Eenkhoorn can go for it. I'm really looking forward to starting the second part of my season."
Line-up Sibiu Cycling Tour
Tim van Dijke