CyclingPub Interview: Sam Oomen takes it one step at a time
Jan 16 2017 01:49 pm CET

CyclingPub Interview: Sam Oomen takes it one step at a time
CyclingPub Interview: Sam Oomen takes it one step at a time
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SAM OOMEN
TEAM SUNWEB

Dutch cyclist Sam Oomen has in his first year proven to be one of his nation's most exciting prospects. During his team's training camp in Spain, the Sunweb rider took a moment to speak with CyclingPub.com.

Oomen made his debut with the team, then called Giant-Alpecin, at the age of 20. He didn't need long to leave an impression, winning the Tour de l'Ain in August and having finished 26th at Liege-Bastogne-Liege a few months earlier, after having defended himself well in the race finale.

We meet with the Tilburg-born rider in the lobby of a hotel in Calpe, where several top level teams are preparing for the upcoming season.

How is the feeling at the moment?

It's good actually. For this time of the year everything is going well. It's good that we're in Spain now because the weather in the Netherlands has been pretty cold. I am starting my season a little late, mid-February, so there isn't a lot of stress to be in good shape right now. But in general it's going quite well, which is positive.
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Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb), Calpe 2017
Photos by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com

This will be your second season here. How do you look back on your first season?

It was one big discovery. It was full of positive surprises. I hadn't expected to get my first professional victory. That was a great moment. In big classics like Liege-Bastogne-Liege and San Sebastian I managed to be at the front until quite late in the finale. I hadn't dare to expect that ahead of the season. It was a great season, I think.

You already mentioned some of the races. Apart from the Tour de l'Ain, what has been your personal highlight?

Next to the Tour de l'Ain? It would have to be Liege-Bastogne-Liege. To be there in the finale in one of my favorite races was definitely a highlight.

"Suddenly you end up in the professional world with people you only know from television."

Were you aware that you were capable of such performances?

I definitely didn't expect it. The weather was going to be really bad and I had never ridden such a long distance. I definitely didn't see that coming.

What does that mean for your future?

It's hard to say but it shows that I have a big engine and have a lot of capacity. It means that I may be able to do well in long and heavy races. That's a positive thing.

You were 20 years old last year. Was it a big adjustment for you to make your debut at such a big team and at the highest level?

It was. At Rabobank I was used to dealing with people my own age and nationality. And then suddenly you end up in the professional world with people you only know from television, coming from around the world. That was a big difference, a big adjustment.

Was it intimidating at the beginning?

I wouldn't say intimidating. A bit uncomfortable maybe. Knowing many of these riders from TV and suddenly they're your colleagues...

Did riding with those guys give you added motivation?

That's never really been a problem for me, no matter who were my teammates. I've always really wanted to prove myself. I'm always motivated.

You're here after having finished your first year. How different is it now in comparison to a year ago?

I'm a bit more relaxed because I know what to expect now. Especially the first part of the season will be quite similar to what I did last year. I know what's awaiting me. That does allow me to be a little more relaxed.

Another aspect you may have had to get used to was the media attention. How did you deal with that?

At times I had to get used to it, especially if it was something national. I had been getting media attention before but mostly regional, so it didn't get a lot of attention. But in the past year the national press got involved as well, which was an entirely different experience.

"Until now the Tour of Switzerland was my longest race. That's nine days, so 21 days will be completely different."

The plan is that you will ride the Vuelta a España this year. Is that something you look forward to or is it rather intimidating, your first Grand Tour?

A bit of both, really. It will be another discovery, just like last year. Until now the Tour of Switzerland was my longest race. That's nine days, so 21 days will be completely different. But it's a nice challenge, I'm quite curious.

Do you learn a lot from your older teammates when it's about such challenges?

Of course, you can learn a lot from them. Not only from the older teammates but also from riders like Warren Barguil. He did his first Grand Tour four years ago. Those are riders you can learn things from.

Do you know more about your other plans for this season?

I will start with the Ruta del Sol. Then work towards to the Ardennes classics, much like last year.

You will ride the classics but you have also discovered that you have skills for longer races. Do you think you will want to specialize in one at some point?

That probably also depends on what ends up suiting me best. I love riding classics, even though I may have shown a bit more of myself in stage races this year. I think you can do both at the same time. Look at Warren Barguil who rode the Ardennes classics and got good results, but also did well in the longer races.

Do you think you picked the right team for you a year ago?

I do think so. I think the last year showed that they were very careful with me, which is very positive, and that I got my own chances. The atmosphere in the team is really good and everybody is equal. A lot of thought is given to all the details and it's all very professional. I'm in the right place.

Off the bike, what do you like to do?

I like to make music. I play piano and guitar. I also like to travel. Last year I went to the western United States with my girlfriend in the off-season.

It's early in your career but have you set a goal for yourself, of what you want to achieve?

I wouldn't dare to say anything about it.
Photo of Sam Oomen by Mary Cárdenas / CyclingPub.com





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