What is it like to ride for an Australian team? Are there big differences in mentality compared to European teams?
The Atmosphere is very relaxed. Everybody is always in a good mood and there usually is something to laugh about. There are not to many team which I can compare. During my three years at IAM is was quite relaxed as well, even though the you got the feeling that the sang a different tune .
At my three other teams as a pro, NetApp-Endura, Skill/Argos-Shimano and Milram it was a bit more tense but it was still fine. It also depends on you personal situation within the team.
How do you manage to balance road and track cycling?
I’ve done quite well the last couple of years. It is not an easy venture. All the travels to Frankfurt/Oder are of course time-consuming and exhausting. However, no pains, no gains! Consequently I will keep on trying to master the balancing act.
What fascinates you about track cycling?
For me it is clearly the excitement. Often you don’t have to wait so long until you know the result and the winner. And you habve a complete overview of the race when sitting in the velodrome. Like road racing one is very close to the action and it never gets dull.
Which of your accomplishments do you value the most?
I have to distinguish between track and road, and name both: the silver medal in Peking 2008 and of course the stage win at the Giro in 2016.
Since when have you wanted to be a professional cyclist? Have you ever wanted to be anything else?
Of course, when I went to the sports school in Cottbus in 1998 I had the same dream, like many other children at the time, to become the next Ulle or Ete. During the school years, however, the hopes faded. After graduating from high school in 2005 I was hoping to become a six day professional, but on the road I was far away from the national top level. It followed the training as an industrial clerk … In these 3 years I made a big leap again and was Vice World Champion and then even Vice Olympic champion in 2008! After this I started training as a fire chief at the LSTE. Several wins on the road then in 2009 finally gave me the chance to become a professional with the team Milram the following year.
What do you think about the past of cycling and about its future?
Of course, as a young boy cycling great for me! The excitement then disappeared in the same way as my hopes for a professional contract as one doping scandal followed another. Nevertheless, I kept going and it has paid off. Even if my generation from the 80s are still suffering and have to pay for the misbehaving of others, I see for the next generation again golden times, especially for German cycling!
What do you feel after a defeat?
Disappointment, of course! Although I have not gone for a personal victory for a long time in my position as a lead out man on the road. That’s why I cannot say that much. But second places hurt most at the time. Almost only victories count!
What do you still want to achieve in cycling?
I would love to win another stage in a grand tour. I would also like a win in a one-day race, or simply put, a win a year would satisfy me. After silver in Beijing, I still have the dream of an Olympic gold medal!
What does family mean to you?
Family is always important! They give you support in every situation. It’s nice to know someone is there when you get home.