Stuyven does not accept the dominance of the miracle generation

Nine seasons with Trek-Segafredo and at least three more to go: it makes Jasper Stuyven one of the most loyal riders in the peloton. “Now Tim Wellens has left Lotto I’ll take over,” he laughs. “I feel good here. The team has always supported me, even when things didn’t go as planned. There is a good interaction. I have certainly considered sniffing a different air, but that was mainly due to curiosity. What kept me on board is the realization that this team invests a lot in a close-knit classic core and that I can do my own thing there.”

At the age of thirty, Stuyven is in the prime of his sporting life. “I won Milan-Sanremo when I was 28, maybe that was my best years. The younger generations have since corrected that image. Yet I still don’t have the feeling of ‘oh, I’m getting old’. I will definitely participate.”

Van Aert, Van der Poel, Pogacar, Evenepoel: they are different calibres, Stuyven admits. “When I made my professional debut, it all went reasonably well in function of Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara. Now anyone can blow things up at any time. ‘The earlier, the better’ is the motto. I can only play my experience in certain situations.”

Core business

Every year Stuyven is judged on the Flemish classics, his core business. He thinks that’s a bit unfair. “I am not a pure sprinter, not a climber and not a time trialist. So I have to bet on those Flemish rates. I realize what limits me in a way. But my type of rider just has no other choice. At the most, I get seven or eight chances to make my spring ‘successful’. However limited the profit guarantees are, it keeps motivating me to be the very best version of myself during that period.”

Only four of the still active Belgian professionals managed to win a monument in the past decade: Greg Van Avermaet (Paris-Roubaix 2017), Wout van Aert (Milan-Sanremo 2020), Remco Evenepoel (Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2022) and Jasper Stuyven himself (Milan-Sanremo 2021). “I don’t think I’m out of place on that list.”

In 2023 he hopes to win in Roubaix. “That love blossomed after my victory in the juniors in 2010 and has only grown in strength since then.”

Trek’s Flemish-classical core has not undergone one significant change. “It is now just looking forward to the moment when both Mads Pedersen and I have a super day,” says Stuyven. “That has never worked out in recent years for God knows what reason.”

The inhabitant of Leuven chooses to ride two grand tours next year. “Because I’m in both the Giro and the Tour unfinished business have got. It’s slowly starting to press, the years are dwindling. I’ve been close to it a few times in both stage races and I definitely want to try again. I also credit myself with more chances of winning a stage than in say Paris-Nice, Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse. The original plan was to skip the Tour, because the World Cup will follow shortly afterwards, but I eventually decided against that.”

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