The crown jewels (V/V)

 Anders Lund, the strategist

Le Danemark rejoint cette année la liste prestigieuse des pays ayant accueilli le Grand Départ du Tour de France. Cette grande première accompagne l’avènement d’une « génération dorée » dans le grand concert du cyclisme international. Comment ont-ils imposé leur talent ? Le site letour.fr est allé à la rencontre des coureurs, formateurs et dirigeants qui ont façonné le cyclisme danois moderne.   Voilà bientôt dix ans qu’Anders Lund a raccroché son vélo. À 37 ans, l’ancien coureur de l’équipe CSC/Saxo a réussi sa reconversion à la tête des sélections élite et espoirs danoises, avec lesquelles il a remporté cinq maillots arc-en-ciel et de nombreuses autres médailles mondiales et européennes. Il se dit « chanceux » de travailler avec une génération dorée pour laquelle il a de nouveaux plans de conquête.

I - The inspiration

As a young kid, Anders Lund played football. “Then I had a knee injury”, the Danish national coach remembers. “I started cycling as part of my recovery and I discovered that I was actually a much better cyclist than I was a football player!” In 2004, his skills landed him a spot within Team PH - “the first ambitious Danish Junior team with a really strong international program. I raced with Matti Breschel [2nd in the 2010 Worlds] and Chris Anker Sorensen [14th and most combative rider of the Tour 2012, who passed away in an accident in 2021].” ”It’s from that time that I thought I could be a professional. I was also inspired with the Danish riders at the time. Early on, I watched Rolf Sorensen [2nd of the 1996 Olympic Games, 4 top 10s in the Worlds]. The World championships were broadcasted on the Danish television and I would sit on the couch and watch him. He had this thing of being dropped on the climbs and always making it back on the descents. It was fascinating to have a Danish guy who could perform with the best.”  

II - The conversion

“I was pretty good when I was Under 23”, says the runner-up of Liège-Bastogne-Liège Espoirs 2005. “I would win more races than Chris Anker Sorensen at the time. It changed when we got to the World Tour. My engine was suffering a bit with the increased distances and intensity. Even though you’re not the best, you have to have the dream of being able to do it. I had that for the first five, six years. Then I thought that if I’m not able anymore of dreaming of winning the biggest races, I’m better off and I should find something else.” Retired from the peloton at 28 years old, Lund went on to study history at the university. “I enjoyed it but I must admit I was not the sharpest student”, he laughs. “When I had the opportunity to be the national coach I went back in that direction again. I started as a U23 coach in 2016, and the former national coach stopped in my first year, so I’m also in charge of the Elite since then.”  

III - The golden generation

In 2016, the Danish selection left Doha and the Worlds with a couple of medals from the junior events and gold for Amalie Dideriksen in the women’s race. Since then, Lund’s Elite and U23 riders have claimed eight medals and five rainbow jerseys, most notably with Mads Pedersen’s victory in 2019. “First of all, I’m the spectator of the strong development of Danish cycling in recent years”, Lund celebrates. “We are in the middle of some golden years, with the highest number of professional in the World Tour that we have seen, and I would also say the individual level of the riders is higher than ever.” “That high level also creates some challenges”, the coach explains. “Back in the days, when I was riding with the national team, Matti Breschel would be the team captain, and maybe also Jakob Fuglsang. Today, if I select the eight best Danish riders, all of them could be captain, and some may look at the team and want to do the Worlds only when they are leaders. The tricky part is to build a team of riders used to helping each other every year. I think we’re pretty close and that makes us really dangerous as a team.”  

IV - The maturation

After the Grand Départ of the Tour from Copenhagen, Lund will head to Portugal for the U23 European championships. “I have many more contacts with the Under 23 than with the pros”, the national coach says. “They ride stage races and one-day races through the year, so it’s easier to have a culture in the team. Mainly, it’s about selecting the strongest riders and applying the same philosophy that we work as a team and we work for the chance of the team.” “Sometimes we commit everything to one guy, but we also find smaller windows for the others”, says Lund, whose riders recently took on the U23 Peace Race. Sebastian Kolze Changizi won stage 2 and Jacob Hindsgaul Madsen was 4th overall. “It’s a development category so you don’t want to develop riders into domestiques already at that time. Even though it may be their role once they get in the World Tour, they need to be sharp, they need to be winners to move on and be professionals.”

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