January 31, 2001
I have been trying to wipe the slate clean mentally, and according to me the year 2001 started on the day I arrived in Belgium last Wednesday, January 24th.
I flew up to Copenhagen on Thursday the 25th, to join my new Team Manager Peter Sejer Nielsen for the presentation of the Tour of Denmark. It was great to get further acquainted with my new boss in this way, as the atmosphere was relaxed and I really enjoyed the day. The fact that I wouldn't get any training in for a few days was a minor inconvenience but then, being as jet-lagged as I was after flying home from Australia the day before, I never really planned on going out and freezing my nuts off anyway.
Copenhagen impressed me and I feel a strange liaison with the Danish Country - must have been living there in a previous life or something - I find that I actually can read a lot of the language and I have ordered some tapes to learn Danish. You might see me jabbering to myself on my training rides, so in case you pass me: no, I haven't lost it, I'll be trying to follow the tapes.
I also met the senior executives of Fakta, the supermarket chain which is the main sponsor. The family atmosphere is amazing, especially because we are talking about a fast growing company. They now count over 250 stores in Denmark and are looking at opening another 38 this year alone. This is great for employment in Denmark, a cycling loving country with only 5 million inhabitants.
The team presentation was held at a Choice Hotel (one of our sponsors) near Copenhagen. Peter Sejer Nielsen was wrapped with the attention of the Danish Press and is aiming at presenting a first category Team Fakta next year.
I received my new Viner Bike a couple of days before and I absolutely love it. Not only does it feel great, the bright red colour is invigorating so that it might be a bit more of a pleasure to wash (something new for me, errr)!!. The Italian frames always agree with me and this one is light (1.2 kg without fork). I'll tell you all about it in another report.
Fakta uses Time Shoes and Uvex helmets. I rode with Time before and I find them easy to get used to. Decca, our cycling clothes manufacturer is not a new name to me either. The brothers De Clercq have been in the business for so many years now and the great thing about it is that their offices and factory are located right here in Zottegem. I have been to see them yesterday and they are great people, my knicks and jerseys are now 'tailor made'!
Another sponsor to be seen on the jersey is Cottonfield, our clothing sponsor, with whom my wife is particularly happy because of the quality of their garments. Easy to wash and iron and that sort of stuff, blablabla, whatever women have an eye for...
Adidas is sponsoring us with tracksuits and other sporting clothing, the red, black and white will be an eye-catcher at the start and finish of races and at the dinner table in the hotels. The internet site JubII (or not to be) has also found a great spot on the shorts.
Enough about the look, let's talk racing.
In 2001 the biggest races for Team Fakta will be the small tours like Tour of Germany, Tour of Luxemburg, Tour of Sweden and of course the Tour of Denmark. Of course, we will be aiming for a wild card for some of the World Cup Races, and we will be very eager to accept in case we are offered a start in one of the Classics.
We are on the start list for a whole bunch of 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 races. We surely won't get bored training with all these races to do. The Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España are not on our schedule at the moment but, in case our start of the season proves to be successful, Fakta would love to be adding one of these Tours to the roster.
Momentarily, the team counts twelve cyclists. Kim Andersen and Peter Sejer Nielsen are looking at reinforcing the squad with another two. Allow me to introduce some of my new colleagues to you.
Peter Sejer Nielsen, Manager
Peter is what one could probably call a Wiz-Kid. He raced as a top Danish junior with Rolf Sørensen but stopped racing to go to University. Peter started his own company at a young age, with his products soon being exported all over the world. Cycling never let him go though and he started cycling for fun again at the age of 30. As the amalgamation of amateurs and pro's became inevitable and it was necessary to have five man squads to compete in the top races, he needed to find a sponsor for a team; that's where Fakta came in.
At 35, he is now managing a professional cycling team in the second category. His ambition to lead this team into first division is becoming a realistic issue. Supported by the eagerness that the board of Fakta is showing, I have no doubt he'll pull that one off too.
Kim Andersen, Director Sportive
His personal professional cycling career is impressive, and he was a former yellow jersey wearer in the Tour de France (11 days in total)! His experience in the field certainly provides him with the ability and the necessary knowledge to guide a pro team efficiently. And, very important for someone like me (read: 34 and weathered by the sport), he is a really cool guy to work with.
Peter Meinert Nielsen, Assistant Director Sportive
Peter and I go back a long way; all the way back to '91 actually when we were riding with TVM. Since then we've been friends and Peter is the perfect assistant to have around, he's so cool and casual, never gets stressed. He decided to put a stop to his active cycling career at the end of last year, so he still has the taste of racing fresh in his mouth.
Since Manu turned pro in '99, he has been a very good domestique in the Belgian Lotto formation. He has signed a contract with Fakta hoping to get a better opportunity to show himself. As Manu is living in Belgium as well, he will more than likely be my regular companion on the plane and in the car while travelling to foreign races.
This rider has been noticed in particular in the MTB circuit, by winning the MTB Tour de France in 1997. In 2000, Lennie has concentrated on the road and has gained some amazing results. He finished 6th in the GC of the Tour of Langkawi at the beginning of the season. In the Tour of Normandie, he wore the leader's jersey for two days, he won the fourth stage and finished 4th overall.
Lennie also finished 4th in the Time Trial at the Championships of Denmark. Finally the Tour of Denmark, where he wore the leader's jersey for 2 days and took 5th place overall, was another highlight.
Rode for "Team Chicky World" and "Memory Card". Allan won several big races in '99. The 2000 season counted fewer victories but was very important for him because of the fact that he was given the opportunity to ride in most of the classics. Along with his start in the Tour de France this meant excellent schooling.
Michael Holst Kyneb
Because of health problems, Michael lost most of the 385 UCI pints he gathered in '99. He obtained those points because of strong rides in the Tour des Régions Wallonnes, a 2nd placing in the Championships of Denmark; a 5th in the HofBrau Cup and a 9th place in the Midi Libre. Being only 28, he is planning a big 'comeback' this year.
Kurt Asle Arvesen
Kurt is joining the team after being with the Italian Amica Chips formation for 2 years. He was U23 World Champion in '97, won a stage in the Tour of Italy for amateurs (Baby Giro) in '98 and became pro in '99.
In 2000, he impressed further by finishing 4th in two stages of the Tour de Bavière and another 4th in the Tour of Luxemburg. The Tour of Sweden was successful with a 2nd placing and a 6th overall. He could be found in the top 10 in every stage.
He can also brag about the 5(!) National Titles he holds as Norwegian Champion. Kurt is certainly a big hope for Fakta and I am convinced he will report numerous victories for our team.
A young German cyclist, 24 and busting with confidence. In 2000 he showed his colours by winning a stage in the Tour of Saxony. He furthermore took 7th overall in the first category race "Henninger Turm".
Morten has been with Fakta since 2000 and I especially look at him because of his climbing abilities and his "aggressive" style which makes him part of the right breaks. This rewarded him with two nice victories (Tour de Fionie and a stage win in the Tour of Saxony).
On top of that, Morten finished second on several occasions, among which the Tour de Normandie and Circuit des Mines, where he also filled out the 10th place in the GC and won the Climber's Jersey.
Another cyclist who rode with Fakta in 2000. Even though his start of the season was a bit rough, he managed to get one trophy on the shelf (reminds me of my own season). A 10th in the GC of the Tour of Sweden, a second and third in different stages netted him over 100 UCI points, which we all value so much nowadays. Marcus has a lot of talent and we hope to cultivate that this year.
Without question the most talented Danish amateur in 2000, by dominating and winning the "Post Cup 2000" (Danish Cup). He was in form from early February till the end of September. This, while working a normal job 30 hours a week! [That's normal?! Ed]
Having a very good nose for the right breaks, Michael will without doubt be of great value to the team.
Allan Bo Andresen
In 2000, Allan started with Fakta as "neo-pro". This year, it will be up to him to prove he is handling his spot within the professional peloton well and his pretty impressive qualities as a sprinter could make him an important rival to the "big guys" when he is in form.
His second placing in the Northern Championships is proof of his abilities. He won 3 crits in Sweden last year. The mountains will surely be a trial for him but in case we can help him get his butt over the climbs, look out for him in the final sprints!
I hope this makes you a bit more familiar with Team Fakta.
The first race on our agenda is the Tour of Langkawi and I will be leaving for Malaysia on Friday. I'm really happy to be going back to a warmer climate but I'm not too sure about my form. The trip back from Australia was trying and my schedule since then has not allowed me much time for training. I'll try and cram a few days into one tomorrow; probably not the best thing to do but I'll have the company of Allan Peiper for a few hours to break up the ride.
The team's website (www.teamfakta.dk) will be up and running by mid February, feel free to visit and get the update on the team's program and progress! You can even join the Fakta's supporter's club and receive a great T-Shirt and cap, and be invited to VIP events!
Will keep you posted.