SEG Racing Academy will be led primarily in hillier one-day and stage races by Stevie Williams, Julius van den Berg and Jan Maas. After getting to know both Stevie and Julius a few months ago, it is now time to turn our attention to Jan. The 21-year-old Dutchman had a strong season in 2017, despite having a bad crash and injury at the U23 Giro. Just after the conclusion of the team’s winter camp in Loutraki, Greece, Jan gave up some of his valuable time to answer a few questions exclusively from U23 Cycling Zone, to help readers get to know him better.
“I think I can look back on a steady season. SEG Racing Academy let me ride a lot of nice races, including nine stage races. I had some good results in Ronde de l’Isard, Fleche Ardennaise and the Czech Cycling Tour. Unfortunately, during the 4th stage of the Baby Giro (one of my main targets of the season), I broke my scapula and got a concussion, which led to a month worth of rehab to get in race shape again. Because of this, I missed some nice races like the Nationals and Valle d’Aosta. But, besides that, I can look back on a steady season.”
Jan willingly shared some details of the recent team training camp. Furthermore, he explained that he will remain in Greece for a bit longer to enjoy the warm weather, along with the aforementioned Williams and Edoardo Affini.
“I just finished a training camp of ten days with the team in Loutraki, Greece. The training camp was designed to get a lot of hours in the legs, doing some specific efforts and getting in touch with most of my 2018 teammates. This worked out pretty well for me and I can look back on a good camp. At the moment, I stay in Greece for almost a month with Stevie Williams and Edoardo Affini in between the two team-organised training camps to get through the winter in nice conditions.”
As mentioned above, Maas is a rider who excels in the hills and mountains. However, Jan isn’t quite sure if he prefers the one-day events or the stage races. Either way, he has strong results in both: 15th overall in Mons et Chateaux, 17th in the Czech Tour and 9th in Ronde de l’Isard. He also scored 10th in Gooikse Pijl and U23 Paris-Tours, as well as 7th in Fleche Ardennaise.
“I had some nice results in both one-day races and stage races, but I think I can agree that my best races were ridden in the hills and mountains. Generally, I enjoy the atmosphere of a stage race like l’Avenir or l’Isard more than a one-day race. But around some one-day races, like Liege-Bastogne-Liege U23, Tour of Flanders U23 and the Worlds, you also get a different atmosphere with crowd and organisations, that is what makes those events so addictive and are why everyone wants to ride them. Let’s say I love almost every race that has hills and mountains, and not every day ending in a sprint! I am not demanding as long it is a hard race,” Jan says, laughing.
With Jan turning 22 next month, 2018 is his final season in the U23 category. However, Jan admitted he thought about trying to go pro last year and he felt it affected his riding. For this season, he is fully focused on his racing, especially since he knows has a back-up plan if turning pro is not an option.
“To be honest, I had some struggles last year at the beginning of the season with the whole ‘I have to become pro’ idea. But right after my crash in the Baby Giro, I lost that stress out of the blue and I could put it into a whole different perspective. I enjoyed training and all the races way more than before, so maybe the setback was a well-timed life lesson for me to enjoy what I’m doing now. I will just work as much as possible and see what my options are. I don’t think about things I can’t change, but I will not doubt myself. Also, in October, I managed to accomplish my bachelors in sports marketing, so now the only focus I have in life is just pedal as hard I can in races and listen really good to my trainer Vasilis Anastopoulos during training periods. So, as a result of all of this, I’m confident to rock this season and get some nice results for SEG Racing Academy.”
Jan’s goal for 2018 is to be competitive in every race he participates in, hopefully collecting a few wins along the way. He has no specific race he is targeting, but he wishes success in some of the biggest U23 events on the calendar.
“My goal is to have such a steady season that I can compete every race for the win. Like I said before, I can climb but I can sprint as well and that can also be an advantage when trying to win in every race I participate this season. With that attitude, I go into my last year as an U23 rider and I think that’s the right attitude to have. But of course, I have some targets for specific races. Liege U23, revenge at the Baby Giro, Tour de l’Avenir and using my climber’s legs at the Worlds. These races will be my four main targets this season.”
As Jan mentioned, he enjoys Liege and the Worlds. He has this statement boldly emblazed under his name on the team’s website for all viewers to see. For Jan, it is not the history or the parcours that make these races more enjoyable, but the atmosphere created at the side of the road by the supporters.
“Like I said before, both of these races have a strange but marvellous atmosphere around them, and to be one of the main players in a spectacle like Worlds or Liege is something I greatly admire about these races.”
Jan is a massive talent and the Dutchman is set to do big things for his SEG Racing Academy team this season. We thank Jan for giving up his time and answering our questions. As always with all SEG Racing Academy work we do, press officer David Soteras is behind it and is responsible for connecting U23 Cycling Zone with Jan. Thanks as always David. You can follow Jan on Twitter at @janmaass.