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Kulset Chronicles: The Spring Journey

A few months have passed since the last chat with Johannes Kulset. The cycling season is through its first part, so there is no better time to catch up with the man from Oslo. We discuss performances of the Uno-X Mobility rider so far, riding a World Tour race for the first time and much more including his first monument!

© Szymon Gruchalski

Let's start with your thoughts on making this year's Tour de France Squad?

Johannes Kulset: "I think it's looking pretty good in all honesty. Before the season, there was maybe around twelve or thirteen guys in contention for the selection. Now there is probably around nine or ten riders left. I think that when Tobias Halland Johannessen has been in shape he has evidently shown that he is our strongest guy. It is going to be crucial to have enough domestiques for him to succeed."

"For myself, I think that is important in regards to being selected as I am one of the strongest climbers in the team. The team can also perhaps want to prioritise the sprint train with Søren Waerenskjold, but he is more of a 'solo rider' with Jonas Abrahamsen just dropping him off in the last kilometre where he will just switch wheels. My chances I would say are pretty good right now, but there is still many days and months t0 go. I think that the chance is in a even better place right now than at the start of the season when we first talked."

The Tour of Oman, what was that experience like?

"Looking back at it now, It was such a crazy week with the stages meant t0 be two-hundred kilometres everyday. The weather was just insane. The change from the Muscat Classic where the temperature was thirty five degrees to the later stages in Oman where it just rained like crazy. I have never experienced anything as close to that weather before in my life. Because of this, the parcours were obviously changed and this affected me massively as the week just became easy. My shape just went downhill because the stages were like rest days with a one minute sprint at the finish. On the last stage I had too much energy and was too fresh and I was so stressed as the entire race was dependent on the last stage instead of it being a super hard week."

"Looking back at it two months on, I think that it was a super solid performance and result as there is not many top ten's in a pro race that we have achieved as a team. If I see it like that it is obviously really good, but if I see it from a numbers perspective it could have been better. I think that I was more disappointed two months ago about it but now I am satisfied with it."

Do you see progression from the start of the season until now?

"Yes! From the Mallorca races where I was just completely dead after all of the days which were around three and a half hours. Now after Catalunya I just have so much more left in my legs at the end of races and my training. My fatigue resistance is better now compared to the start of the season. My maximum efforts are pretty similar but the way in which I am able to do them after four hours is much better now than before. After Catalunya, my resting heart rate just dropped by two-three every night compared to what it was before due to amount of load I have done."

How do you look back on your results in the past two months?

"As I said before in the Tour of Oman it was not super good, but obviously it has been my best result this year. My team mates were excellent especially on Green Mountain where they helped me conserve so much energy. Onto Catalunya, I think it's really hard to analyse because the level on display there is just crazy. When Pogacar is dictating the tempo of the peloton, your day shape becomes that much more important than your week shape, as you have to stay within the pace of the peloton. The pace is too high for everyone apart from Pogacar so everyone is going over their limits all the way to the line. If you're not feeling good you just get dropped very early. When I am dropping with twenty kilometres to go, I am losing six minutes! If it was a lower level I probably would get dropped from around five kilometres to go and lose a minute instead."

I just have t0 be happy to be able to ride with riders such as Geraint Thomas, Andreas Leknessund and Cian Uijtdebroeks

"I was feeling pretty good in the opening stages but in the third and fourth stage I was just not used to racing stage races this year especially considering the circumstances of Oman. Optimally, I would have wanted to have raced a stage race before going to Catalunya. On the second day I thought I would be able to fight for a top ten to top fifteen but my body just became so tired and not responding between the stages. But overall it was still super solid, I was racing with Andreas Leknessund in most of the days which is very nice to be able to perform near his level."

"Going over to the French races where it was a bit up and down. I felt that in the Faun Drôme Classic and in the Faun-Ardèche Classic I was pretty strong but I got a technical problem in the latter. In the Drôme Classic I was in the group behind Mattias Skjelmose. The riders in his group were competing for the win. So it was a sprint for me to get 6th of 7th but unfortunately I had to click out of my pedal in the sprint with two hundred meters to go, which was a big shame."

"In the Jura races, I crashed at around sixty kilometres an hour after just eight kilometres on the first day. That just completely destroyed my race. When you have crashed, immediately you feel okay because you have so much adrenaline, but it catches up on you. I was suffering a lot, especially with my sleep as every movement in bed is causing you to wake up. I was really disappointed because I felt that I was in a good shape coming into the race. Even though I crashed, it was really good to get good race days in my legs."

What did you specifically learn from your first World Tour race in Catalunya?

"I think that if you see the gap to Pogacar, it is big. But if the second or third best rider would be dictating the tempo in the peloton the gaps would be much more reduced. Third in the youth classification doesn't really mean anything, but it does show that I am one of the best young riders even when I was the youngest in the race. To compete for a top ten was possible but we didn't quite just make it so it gives me the confidence that there is not that much ground to make up."

"In Catalyuna I think that the overall level of climbers that were there was even higher than Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico. My aim was around a top fifteen, but to come twenty-first is also not a bad result especially when you see the riders I am finishing near on each stage. Everyone around me was a top rider where two years ago I was watching them dreaming of being on their level. I just have t0 be happy to be able to ride with riders such as Geraint Thomas, Andreas Leknessund and Cian Uijtdebroeks."

Do you perform better in one-day races or stage races?

"I think that I perform better on singular stages within stage races. I have a really solid base level where it gets better and better by the third or fourth stage. Sometimes I struggle a little bit in one day races getting the perfect shape so that's why I believe I am more suited to stage races as a rider."

How do you deal with bad luck and adversity?

"When I did the Mallorca races and the Tour of Oman, I felt that I was one of the strongest in the race. In Oman I definitely should have done better. So when I came to the next races, my mentality was that I came eighth and the result was not even that good so I could do even better. Since then I have obviously not done better. It does make me feel disappointed because I just want it so much. I have had a lot of help from our mental health coach who helps me because I feel like I let my team mates down who deliver me in good places."

"With my crash and puncture on the opening stage of the Jura weekend, there's nothing I can do about that so that is fine. The days after I did everything I could to perform, but my body would not respond. It is super disappointing in all honesty as I knew that race was on my calendar since November last year. It was the perfect parcours for me. My team mates as well have been super supportive of me, always believing in me."

"My self confidence has always remained high though going into races and during races. Catalunya though was another level as Pogacar is just a maniac! He is on another level. I am there going full gas and he is just there cruising, breathing through his nose. That is a race you just have to use as motivation."

I am going full gas, while Tadej Pogacar is just there cruising, breathing through his nose

"I gained even more self-confidence in the Région Pays de la Loire Tour because we had a super good week. I wanted to go and prove myself at the Tour du Jura Cycliste, but yeah I crashed so that didn't go to plan! On the last day I went solo. Of course I wanted to win but if that attack had stuck many teams would end up keeping their eyes on me for future attacks. I think it's similar to Jonas Abrahamsen where in Tirreno he just didn't quite make it to victory and was able to get a second place in Dwars Door Vlaanderen."

© Szymon Gruchalski

How was your first taste of a monument at Liège-Bastogne-Liège?

"It was really good fun in the last forty kilometres. I rode away from my group on Côte de la Redoute. After that I waited for Andreas Leknessund. Before that though, it was really frustrating to be caught up in that crash as I felt super strong on the day, so it is a big shame."

With the extreme weather in La Flèche Wallonne, how does the team prepare for that?

"With all of our guys finishing the race, It gives me such a confidence boost as it shows everything is possible for us as a team, especially with Tobias getting stronger and stronger everyday. Everyone has seen the videos online of Mattias Skjelmose suffering like crazy, but if you compare that Tobias Halland Johannessen who is also pretty skinny... He wasn't even suffering with the cold."

"I actually didn't watch the race until the last fifteen kilometres as I was out training. I had to go and check X to see how on earth that race situation happened! Weather like that is usually no worry for us Norwegians, because those temperatures are like summer for us! We do tend to struggle with the high temperatures though."

How is the team feeling about the start of the season and the fight for the World Tour license in 2026?

"I think that we have to be realistic. Something drastic has to happen in order to obtain enough points for the World Tour license. Top two among the ProTeams would still be very good for us as a team. We do have t0 be better though, although we've had bad luck with Tobias Halland Johannessen breaking his collarbone, but shit happens. Until March the bad luck just kept coming, but then Jonas Abrahamsen was being Jonas Abrahamsen and got some amazing results."

"We've achieved pretty solid results during the Classics, from a second place at Dwars door Vlaanderen with Jonas Abrahamsen to Søren Waerenskjold's top ten at Paris-Roubaix. Also getting four of our guys in the top thirty at Roubaix, which I think nobody else was able to achieve. At La Flèche Wallonne, Tobias Halland Johannessen maybe showed a few of the doubters of the team that they should not write us off in the fight to overtake Tudor Pro Cycling Team. Our riders are only getting better and better."

Your thoughts on the decision regarding the dissolvement of the Uno-X Development team?

"I didn't really know about it at first so it was a bit of a shock, but the decision does make sense. If you see myself for example I probably could have just come straight to the pro team and it wouldn't have made a difference to me. If you do see in the last year, not many riders have made the step from the development team to the pro team and we have two other continental teams from Norway who only have under-23 riders in their ranks. Even though they aren't Uno-X Development teams, they are still a really good level for the junior riders to make the step across to the pro team. You do save millions of money by not having a development team at the end of the day."

Are there any riders you have been impressed by within and outside the team?

"Within the team I would say Ådne Holter. He has been super good and within many races he's almost like my own personal bodyguard, so I have to give him a shoutout! I also have to say Jonas Abrahamsen, who I have known since I was a small child. I've known him for around ten years now. He was so skinny back then!"

"Outside of the team I would say Marijn van den Berg. I remember one race against him last year where he was insane. For someone who can sprint, his climbing is super strong and his results demonstrate that."

Your goals for the World Championships in Zurich?

"I have decided that I will participate in the under-23 worlds' this year as I think that to achieve a medal in the Elite race is pretty impossible. So I think that it is the right decsion to do the U23 worlds' instead as the parcours suits me so I can go full gas in a bid to achieve victory."

I will participate in the U23 Worlds this year. The parcours suits me so I can go full gas in a bid to achieve victory

Is there anyone within the team aiming for the Olympics?

"Søren Wærenskjold is aiming for the TT as he is so good in corners, where the course is super technical. Moving onto the road race race, I think it will be either Rasmus Tiller or Tobias Halland Johannessen. Maybe Jonas Abrahamsen can also be good in that as there are some minor cobbled sectors."

What is your plan in regards to training and racing in the coming months?

"I had my participation in Liège, now I will have two weeks at home until I go to Sierra Nevada with seven others on the team, which will be around three weeks. After that it is one week at home where then I will participate in the Critérium du Dauphiné. I will have about forty days without racing, but three weeks of that will be training at altitude."

Keep an eye out in the coming months for a new episode of the Kulset Chronicles and discover together with us whether or not Johannes get selected for the Tour de France!

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