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From climber to rouleur: Jonas Abrahamsen's big switch

Updated: Apr 9

Well, what can we say. Jonas Abrahamsen (28) has been one of the revelations of the 2024 season so far. His pure demonstration of power, grit and determination has been something to behold. We recently sat down with Jonas to learn more about the person he is along with the decision to move from a climber to a rouleur!

© Harry Talbot

How did you first get into cycling?


Jonas Abrahamsen: "It started with me playing football where I was pretty good until I sustained a big knee injury. In the rehab, I had to do a lot of cycling to return to a suitable level for football. With that, I did a few races where I ended up winning one and I thought that cycling was the sport for me. Even when I was playing football I had a very good V02 max, but I consider myself lucky to have switched sports."



Your first experience at the Tour De France last year, what was that like?


"I had never done a bike race like that before. People were everywhere all the time, so it was completely full gas for most of the time. Not only that, but the stages were very nice with the start in Bilbao. Moving onto the mountain stages I gained so much energy from the crazy supporters especially the Norwegians who pushed me to the top!"



What did you learn during that race?


"I think that if I was to compete in the Tour De France again in my career, I would probably be a little smarter. I was going all in everyday, so maybe if I was to do it again I would conserve more energy on the 'harder' stages to have the best possibility of achieving a stage victory. I was so close on the 18th stage in 2023 if I had a little more energy I probably could have done it. Maybe next year or the one after, if I am more conservative it is possible especially in the latter stages!"




You have come agonisingly close to victories on numerous occasions. What effect does getting that close have on you?


"It's just nice to see I have the capacity to win races which obviously is very good but sometimes you really do just want to win. But I also think it is great taking mini steps like I am doing now so I'm hoping a victory will come soon!"



People often say competing in your first Grand Tour has a huge effect on your engine. What's your thoughts on that?


"Yes I definitely agree with that statement. I have never experienced that type of high load before I went to the Tour. It is another step in the career of a cyclist to have a Grand Tour in your legs. I have felt I have been stronger this year and I feel like my level now is better than my level at the Tour in 2023."


It is another step in the career of a cyclist to have a Grand Tour in your legs

You've been involved within the Uno-X Mobility setup for 8 years now. Can you describe just how special the team is?


"Going back to 2017 it was very special as there was only 15 people in total involved within the team. Now we probably have around a hundred people. Back then, the sports director used to say to us the breakaway wasn't a good idea as it was thought that we weren't strong enough in the Tour of Norway."


"Every year from then on the team has been getting better and better, with the development of young Norwegian riders and picking up some good people from riders, staff, sports directors and trainers. It is amazing to have a sponsor who invests so heavily on the team."


"Bringing the development guys through early has been excellent with riders such as Johannes Kulset, learning so much at a young age from nutrition, training and other things like that."


© Harry Talbot

What's it like to learn from experienced classics riders such as Alexander Kristoff?


"I have learnt a lot from him. By having him on the team you get a good position easier. Just with how he is racing, I learn a lot from that. His mental strength is another thing which I have been able to learn to not give up and go full gas!"



Was it your decision to switch from a climber to a rouleur or a team decision?


"I would say that it is a combination. The team was saying to me that maybe I should put on a bit more muscle. I knew that if I went up around twenty kilograms, it would be very hard at the start to build the same 'FTP' and watts/kg under a short period. My body had the ability to build the muscles required."


"When I was offered the two-year contract by the team it then was an easy discussion and every year since then, I have felt stronger and stronger. My body is reacting better and better to my increased weight. I was going from a watts peak of nine hundred to one thousand five-hundred when I was getting heavier."


"With this switch, I also get more opportunities as a rider, now I can be part of a sprint, go in a breakaway or be a lead-out for the climbers. Talking of that, I think my climbing level now is probably the same as before the switch!"


"When I was skinny though, my body was very good at burning fat because I didn't have any carbohydrates in my body. I was so skinny and my body was basically learning to burn fat which is ever so important for the classics races."



How has your training changed compared to last year?


"It has pretty much been the same but I haven't really trained as much. In January I did a lot of V02 max and then basically after that I've had a race every week so I haven't had the opportunity to train as much. It's just been races & races & races, so it's nice to get a little bit of rest coming up. I think that it was nice to have some blocks of V02 max training before races, whereas before I probably didn't train as hard."



What was your nutrition like during your transition?


"It was pretty nice. Before I didn't really eat any candy and fatty foods such as pizza and things like that. I was basically able to eat whatever I wanted meaning I was able to put on weight quickly and build a lot of muscle. My fat percentage is actually at the same level from when I was 65 kilograms. Eating more in training and after training has been important and eating more carbohydrates in races as well."


"My favourite things to eat after training is always pasta or rice with some bread, but when I am at home I eat a lot of tacos. It's nice on some days to also enjoy candy whereas in the build-up to big races I was a bit cautious on eating them."



What has your experience been like in the Belgian classics?


"I had never done E3 Saxo Classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders before. It is just so special to ride in Belgium with all the old cobbles and climbs so it did take some time to adjust to racing in these conditions."

I love how passionate the Belgians fans are. I am basically more popular in Belgium than back home in Norway

"I just love in Belgium, how passionate the fans are about the sport, I am basically more popular in Belgium than back home in Norway! It's cool to have so many people watching you, as it means you have clearly done something right."



Getting a podium in Dwars door Vlaanderen, what was that finale like?


"In the end, I was gambling a little bit especially when Matteo Jorgenson attacked and he had Benoot in the group with us who bridged across anytime we attacked. Maybe if it was all together I could have won, but I also was very happy with the podium which I had ridden for. It's nice to know as well that after a long race I still have a good long sprint, which is needed for the races."



Any other goals for 2024?


"To hopefully make the squad for this years Tour De France team and get a good result there. Obviously we will see but it would be very cool to go there again. The parcours suits me and I hope to get in a breakaway and fight for a victory!"

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