2022 was a year to forget for Markus Hoelgaard. The first part of the season was marked by multiple setbacks, but during the second part we could see a positive trend in his performances.
After a very promising period within Uno-X Pro Cycling Team, his move to Trek-Segafredo wasn't the fairytale he had in mind. How did he experience the past season and what does Markus expect from the future? We had a chat with the slightly forgotten Norwegian.
Hi Markus! How are you doing?
"I am doing fine. I had a good rest period after the season and started training again last month. I'm healthy and free of injury at the moment, so fingers crossed it will stay like this during the coming season."
You punctured out of your last race, Paris-Tours. It was a very symbolic end of your first season in a World Tour team. That season was full of bad luck. What were the main struggles you had to deal with?
"It was a difficult year. The first part of the season I struggled with both covid and flu, and it took a long time before my body felt normal again. During the second part of the season I felt better and could do some work for the team, even if I was still lacking a bit in races."
Did you struggle mentally as well?
"Of course there have been some tough times the past year. The last couple of years everything went the way I wanted and I didn't have any major setbacks. It was hard to adjust to a year in which all went wrong. Luckily I had some good support from the team and I am sure next year will be better."
Currently you're preparing the new season in Norway. Do you ever think of moving to a warmer place?
"I am currently doing my training at home in Ålgård. It is still snow free and the conditions are good. I am happy to stay here. I've never considered moving to anywhere else. The winters are mild in this part of Norway, so that is normally not a big issue."
It was hard to adjust to a season in which all went wrong
Who are your favorite training mates?
"I am training with the riders who live in the area. There are some guys from Uno-X here, some guys from Team Coop, Kristoff and Bystrøm. We try to train together as often as possible."
I guess the Flemish classics are your main goals. Do you think you can claim a free role in these races?
"Correct, the Flemish classics are my big goal for next year. Normally it’s an advantage to have several guys in the final of these races. If we manage that, it might open up some opportunities. However, there’s no doubt Pedersen and Stuyven will be our leaders during these races. They deserve our support after what they've
achieved the past years."
Which race are you dreaming of?
"Tour of Flanders. For me that is the biggest classic to win and the race also suits me well. The spectators and the atmosphere make it even more special. I've never done the race, but I hope to be at the start in 2023. In the best possible shape."
The Flemish classics are my big goal for next year. I hope to be at the start of Tour of Flanders in the best possible shape
Norway is leaving its mark on current cycling with Uno-X maybe riding its first Tour de France next year and a very strong, young generation: Leknessund, Foss, Johannessen, Waerenskjold, Staune-Mittet, Hagenes, ... What's the recipe for the Norwegian success?
"There has been a strong training culture in Norway for a long time in endurance sports, especially winter sports. I think cycling also takes advantage of that competence. There are several sports schools with a good programme for kids between 16 and 18 years. And of course the appearance of Uno-X is huge. Not only the professional team, but they also put money in clubs, races and the federation to help developing young riders."
When are you heading to the training camp in Calpe? "Our camp starts December 12th."
We hope you can turn the bad luck into good luck next season. It would be a pleasure to see you flying again over the cobblestones during the classics.