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30-10-2022 | Frank Jansen

Interview Olivier Godfroid: "Training hard is what I love to do"

Gran fondo winner Olivier Godfroid surprised a few weeks ago with a transfer to the continental team Baloise Trek Lions. A remarkable move, it is not that often that a gran fondo rider becomes semi-pro. We spoke with Olivier. 'The WorldTour? My goal is mainly to enjoy myself.'

Olivier, how's life?

'Good. I was unfortunately a little sick last week, but started training again today. I had three weeks of rest, during which I did nothing at all for 11 days and otherwise only did three rides. The eagerness to ride again is huge now.'

How did the team come to you?

'The day before I went to Italy for the World Cup Gran Fondo, I got a call from the team manager of Baloise Trek Lions, Eric Braes. He got in touch with me through EnergyLab, who are coaching me. Through them he also looked at my numbers. When I came back from Italy it was quick. It's a one-year deal. By the way, I will be able to keep my current trainer, which I really like.'

What does your program for next season look like?

'The team's program is the same as last year. It mainly takes place in Belgium, including the Tour of Belgium and Antwerp Port Epic. I'm looking forward to it immensely.'

Those are different types of races than what you've ridden so far. Do you come into your own as a climber in Belgium?

'Good question. But before I started riding gran fondo's I also rode such races with a team and that went well. The kind of training I did the last few years is totally different, I think now I'm going to focus on this again that I can become a type of attacker again.'

Photo: Godfroid wins the 2022 GF Mont Ventoux.

Does this switch mean you won't be riding any more gran fondos?

'I'm certainly not ruling out gran fondos completely. My program with the team doesn't start until May. And before May I might ride one, for example the GFNY Cannes. Mallorca 312 won't work out, because that's when I'll be on a training camp with the team, which also happens to be in Mallorca. The team leaves me free to ride a gran fondo every now and then.'

Until now you combined cycling with a job. Will that stay that way?

'That's right, and I will continue to combine that. It's mainly a matter of good planning. With my job, I have busy periods and less busy periods. During the busy periods, I use what I have. When I am less busy (for example, March-April) I can train a lot more. My coach takes that into account as best he can. By the way, I think cycling next season will be easier to combine with my work than last season because I no longer have the travel time to gran fondos in France and Italy. I expect it will work out well.'

Is it your goal to eventually move up another level, for example to Pro Continental or even WorldTour level?

'I have only been cycling for two years, it has all happened very quickly. I'm not one for grandstanding. For example, I never said I was going to win a gran fondo, but won a few anyway. I'm just going to train super hard, which I love to do. I will have to learn a lot and then I want to see how it goes. Most of all, I want to have fun and see what comes next. I'm super grateful to have this opportunity. I will do everything I can to make it a super great year. What comes next, I will take with both hands.'

Photo: Olivier in La Marmotte, where he would finish third. © Laurence Roels.

About last season. I assume your win in Mallorca 312 was the highlight?

'Mallorca 312 was mythical and my win triggered a lot, so that one does stand at the top. But very close behind that is the GF Mont Ventoux, also because there were 30 friends and family on site. There was really a lot of pressure and when you win on the Ventoux, which has a legendary status in Belgium, it is very special."

How do you look back on your tenth place in the World Cup Gran Fondo?

'I mainly look at the whole week which was great. I really enjoyed it immensely. I remember I was doing a recon ride and then suddenly a Brit and a Slovenian rode by on a time trial bike, then I really thought: wow, this is so cool. The course was beautiful and the level was incredibly high. Coming tenth was the highest I could do. With my 66 kg, I couldn't do any better against those guys of 60 kg.'

Next year's World Cup in Glasgow should suit you if you are going to ride Belgian races now. After all, it will be an Ardennes-like course.

'Unfortunately, I don't think I can go there because it doesn't fit into my schedule. You can't have everything unfortunately. I am considering the Vélomediane though, although the new format of less than 60 km is actually too short for me.'

What does winter look like for you?

For the coming time I will be heading into the woods with the MTB. But I also do alternative forms of training like running. My rest period has worked out well for me. Living not far from Antwerp, I train mostly flat. I often ride towards Zeeland, or towards Breda (both in The Netherlands). In April we are going on a two-week training camp with the team. And finally, I also ride quite a lot on Zwift. You can train very efficiently on the indoor trainer.'

You mainly want to have fun, but you probably have a sporting goal for next season. When will your season be successful?

'I would like to ride one day on the attack in the Tour of Belgium. I will know soon if I can follow or not. I find that hard to say because I have quite little experience.'

Last question, have you looked at the Tour de France course yet?

'It looks like there's going to be a lot of climbing, which I think is really cool! Those are always the most fun stages to follow. The first week is for the puncheurs, I wonder if we will see a Belgian in yellow again. Hopefully in 2024 the Ventoux will be back!

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