The young and talented Danish rider, Jonas Gregaard, is neo-pro (new rider) at Astana Pro Team, where he is teaming up with the two other Danes, Jacob Fuglsang and Magnus Cort for the 2019 season. We have had a talk with Jonas about taking the giant step up the World Tour, moving to Girona and his dream about the Vuelta.
The Giant Step
Everybody talks about how big the step is from pro-continental, or continental as Jonas Gregaard rode in 2018, to the World Tour. But Jonas is confident about his start at the World Tour.
“I’m happy about my start at Astana and the opening of the 2019 season. My opening race was in Australia in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, where I was helping Ballerini. It was a tuff race for me due to the lack of heat acclimation and jetlag. I was really tired at the end. But I did my job, and my shape was where it should be, here at the start of the season.”
Jonas Gregaard’s performance was also recognized by his teammates after the race:
“After the race, Sanchez (Luis Leon Sanchez red.) gave me a pat on the back, which was a nice acknowledgment for me, and is making me confident about myself and my start at the World Tour”.
Moving to Girona
In order to have the best possible training facilities, Jonas Gregaard moved to Girona in Spain before the season.
“I’m really happy about moving to Spain. I’m living alone in an apartment in the city center, where I’m close to everything in this fantastic city. So I don’t feel homesick at all, but rather excited about my situation.”
Girona is one of the bigger cities in Catalonia, in the north-east corner of Spain. A city, that attracts a lot of cyclists because of the mild weather and the hilly cycling terrain just outside the door.
“Here is a lot of Danish riders down here. I’m regularly riding together with some of the other local Danes; Magnus Cort, Casper Pedersen, Mads Würtz Schmidt, Niclas Eg, and Mikkel Bjerg. So we are more or less a small colony of Danes. They live within 6 minutes by foot, so it’s almost like back home in Copenhagen.”
First Training, Then Coffee
Despite that Jonas enjoys the company of the other Danish riders, he is not at all dependent on them.
“It is, of course, a joy having company on the long rides in the mountains. But I actually really like to train alone, where I can control the training myself, ride the intervals I want, and don’t get any help from the other taking the headwind. I have a little more of an old school mentality when it comes to training than many other riders. I don’t favor the coffee stops – I rather ride past the café, when the other stops for coffee, and proceed on my own. I like to keep the momentum, train hard and focused, and drink coffee when I have finished my training.”
Goals for 2019
Starting as neo-pro on the World Tour doesn’t mean, that you are free to choose which races you would like to race in. It’s rather the opposite. You get thrown around and used where there is a need for support. For Jonas Gregaard this means, that he is intended for a role as a helper in the mountains for especially Luis Leon Sanchez, Davide Ballerina, the Izagirre brother, and Jacob Fuglsang.
“My next race will be Tour de la Provence, in the middle of February, where I’m dedicated as a domestique for the Izagirre brothers in the mountains. If I’m doing well in Provence, I’m hoping to race in the UAE Tour and Ruta del Sol later in February. My big goal in the spring is Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, where I’m hoping for some freedom to chase my own chance at the king stage, where the overall classification is being set. Later in the spring, I’ll race in Tour of Turkey (April) and Tor of California (May).”
What is the dream for 2019?
“The Vuelta is a big dream for me! But it’s a rather big goal. It’s not very common, that a neo-pro gets the chance in a Grand Tour. But I will do my best and show them what I’m worth, and then we’ll have to see how everything turns out.”