Q&A: Iljo Keisse Gets Ready for Six Days of Ghent!
Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Iljo Keisse is getting ready to race Six Days of Ghent (6-Daagse Gent) from November 19th through the 24th. The top step of the podium of Six Days of Ghent is a familiar one for Keisse — his palmares already include multiple victories! The following interview describes more than this, however. While the Belgian rider will feel at home at his upcoming race, he also talks about his home outside of cycling, and his racing that led up to this point of 2013.
What was your most beautiful moment of the year?
For me the Giro — actually the full Giro d'Italia — but especially the wins of Cavendish. Definitely the last win of Cav was special.
Also the Classics were beautiful to me, unfortunately we didn't win. But for me personally it felt like I improved in a sense of my task in the team.
How do you look back at this year?
I think that for myself it was a good year. The only thing that I kind of regret is when I broke my hand during the Giro, I didn't stop. I finished the Giro on willpower. It was my first big tour and I really wanted to finish the whole Giro.
I had to pay the price though. I lost 8 weeks after that. So maybe if I look back on it now, I realize I shouldn't have done that. Then I wouldn't have had any trouble afterwards.
But I was really happy I finished the Giro.
How do you see the next year?
I think I have a task inside the team, which I think is going really well and I'm very happy about it that I can fulfill it. I want to keep on doing that for the Classics, and I hope I can ride a big tour as well next year. Also, I hope I can keep on improving!
Congratulations on the birth of your second son! You are a real family man right?
Yes definitely! I love coming home to my wife and two sons and my cute French Bulldog, who is by the way 11-years-old and deaf now (smiles). I really cherish those moments. I got married last year and now I just had my second son Rene.
Can you combine your job with your family easily?
Of course being away from home is part of my job. But, I knew this from in the beginning and I never had trouble with it. But now since I have children it becomes a little bit more difficult.
My oldest son is three, and doesn't really understand why I'm gone for a longer period. Sometimes when I get home I get a special reaction from him, like he can be mad for two more days (laughs). Because he just doesn't understand. But it's ok, my wife supports me through thick and thin. Without her I couldn't have done this.
Do you have any other passions besides cycling?
Hmm, not specifically. I'm not a gamer, I don't play videogames or things like that.I like music but I'm not a fanatic, the same for movies or books... In my free time I like to step away a bit from cycling though. I love spending time with my family and do other stuff not related to cycling. Just to clear my head.
We don't have a lot of free days so when we do I love to spend them to the fullest! Let me tell you with two sons, a dog, and a wife, those days are easily filled. I wish there were more hours in one day!
How do you prepare for the Ghent 6 days?
This year I did things a bit differently than other years.
I had a pretty tough year and I feel it a little bit, so I tried to do the maximum in a minimum amount of time. Usually I would train a few hours on the road motorpacing, and afterwards on the track or the other way around, I did a lot of hours.Now I focused on the intensity. A lot on the track, intensive, explosive, a lot of speed and not on the road anymore after Paris - Tours.
Who is your partner?
Wim Stroetinga from the Netherlands. He is a very good cyclist with a lot of experience!He won the Ghent 6 days a couple of times. He's very fast, that's his strongest fact.
Do you train a lot together?
No, actually we haven't trained at all together.But we know from each other what we can expect. We both have a lot of experience.
Does this give you stress that you know you haven't rode together at all?
Hmm, not really. But I know this can be a disadvantage compared to the other teams who are used to riding together.
But normally this won't be a problem! It would be different if you had to ride with some who rides the Ghent 6 days for the first time. But, this isn't the case.
Are you ready for it?
Yes, I had a bit of trouble with my back, but this is over now. My condition is good. I feel fresh and totally ready for it (smiles)!