Piil looking for six-day benefit
CSC’s Jakob Piil has taken a traditional route into the Classics, opting for a diet of six-day racin
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM After being sidelined for more than seven months, Jakob Piil is aiming for success in the upcoming Spring Classics, which he ranks as important as the Tour de France. A means to reach that objective has been regaining top speed from racing six-day races on the track this past winter, writes Susanne Horsdal. “By riding six day races I’ve built up muscles I haven’t been training for the past five years. Of course I’ll have to keep up training them, but you can say I’ve rediscovered the ‘old’ legs, the ones I need for attacking and sprinting,” explains Piil, who rode three six-day races over the winter, and won the Copenhagen Six in February with partner Jimmi Madsen. Piil began his career as a track rider but slowly turned his focus to the road. So much so that some of his old strengths were lost a bit along the way. However, a stubborn knee injury, sustained during last year’s Tour de France and which forced him to drop out of Le Grand Boucle and then kept him at bay for the rest of the season, may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The main reason for that being that for the first time the Dane feels he’s had sufficient time to prepare for the Classics. “In past years I haven’t been focusing enough on them in November. But that’s when you have to begin training for them. It’s too late to start in January if you want to build up a base that’ll sustain you and keep you from taxing your health in the first races of the season,” says Piil, who gives the example of team-mate Jens Voigt, who rode very successfully in 2004 but finished his season early and is now already back in gear. That option hasn’t been open to Piil in previous years because his season has run from January through to October. Not this year, though. After the knee injury it has been down to training, training and training. “The first 10 weeks before they found out what was wrong (a pulled muscle in the knee) was hell. The worst was the days when I couldn’t ride my bike, because you know that for every day you don’t ride, the harder it’s going to be getting back. I think I rode 5,000-6,000 kilometres before I felt I was back in reasonable form,” says Piil. Apparently, the hard work paid off. At least his early season tests were better than ever and now he wants to benefit from all that hard work – preferably in the Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race. “They’re probably the Spring Classics that suit me best, because the climbs suit me and because I can make use of the speed and the explosiveness I’ve gained by riding six-day races,” says the blond Dane who’s convinced that he can get a big result in these races. “I need to be as sharp as for the Tour de France to be able to do something. But if I’m at that level, I can win a Spring Classic. That’s what I’ve been working towards for the past months,” says the 32-year-old CSC rider, who’s convinced that it’s possible to combine the road with the track if you have the flair for it. That he obviously has, but despite the benefit he may harvest from the track, it’s still the road that gets top priority.