For those who have followed the U23 cycling scene for the last few seasons, Andreas Stokbro is not a new name to you. Back in 2016, as a fresh-faced 19 year old and riding his first season in the division, he scored a stage win in the ZLM Tour and was fifth on the GC, as well as third in the U23 National Road Race in Denmark.
Andreas has come off another successful offseason on the track and began his season at the Ronde van Drenthe. Just before he made his U23 season debut at the Genk-Wevelgem/Kattekoers this coming weekend, Andreas took some time out of his schedule to speak with U23 Cycling Zone and help those readers who don’t know who he is get to know him better.
Firstly, Andreas took some time to reflect on the season that has just passed as we began our exclusive interview. In addition to the results he mentions, Andreas was also second in the KOM competition in the Tour of Denmark, as well as taking some top fives in some one-day events in Denmark and the Netherlands.
“Overall, I think my 2017 season went alright. I missed out on the podium a few times in UCI races which I hoped could have been just one or two spots better. But I think I developed a lot both mentally and physically during the season. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a win at the ZLM Tour nations cup (now a one-day race, ed.), as I did in my first year, due to sickness. But I got stronger again through the season and claimed 2nd at the U23 Nationals RR and 6th at the elite Nationals RR.”
Andreas, who races domestically for Riwal CermaicSpeed Cycling Team in Denmark, races on the track in the offseason to keep his shape. He races the Copenhagen Six Day with compatriot and teammate Andreas Kron, another very talented U23. Andreas spoke about the benefits of his track racing.
“I have been racing on the track since I started cycling so I kind of grew up with it. I did a lot of track racing as a junior, but now I’m mostly using it as a training method in the winter each year. I think the track is really good for keeping some speed in the legs during the winter, and it’s really fun getting to race all year round. I think it makes it a little easier to get through the tough Danish winter. I also did the Copenhagen Six Days with Andreas Kron this year as preparation for the road season which is my main focus. For sure, I will continue to race and train on the track, but the road is my main focus at the moment.”
While many track riders are stage racers or time triallists, Andreas says he specialises more in hillier races and reduced sprints.
“I think about myself as a puncheur, or one of those “low weight” sprinters. This is really good in races with small climbs or hard crosswind races.”
Riwal have a very diverse program that allows Andreas to access the top races in Denmark, but also allows him time off to go and compete with the national team in the U23 Nations Cup races, like the race on Sunday. We asked him to give a comparison between the domestic races, where he races against pros, and the U23 international races.
“It will always be harder to do the international races as the completion is harder. Not to neglect the local Danish races though, as racing should and will always be hard.”
It seems that almost every season, the Danes have the best crop of U23 youngsters and 2018 is no exception. On Riwal alone, Andreas is joined by Kron, Mathias Norsgaard and Jonas Wilsly Gregaard. There are other big names like Mikkel Bjerg (Hagens Berman Axeon), Mikkel Honore, Jakob Egholm and Niklas Larsen (all Virtu). So just why does Andreas think his nation are so good at producing the best young riders in the world?
“I don’t actually know,” Andreas laughed. “For sure we have a really strong U23 team this year, and a lot of it has to do with the great work the local clubs do to develop young riders. Also, the mentality of many Danish riders has a say in the great results, as even though most guys on the national team ride for different teams, we are all ready to help and ride for each other when it comes to a national team race.”
And it is with the national team that Andreas will be racing over the next few weeks, as he continues racing in Europe’s lowlands at some of the biggest U23 Classics on the calendar. He will for sure be chasing that elusive second career Nations Cup race win.
“I started my season last week at Ronde van Drenthe and my next block of racing will be with the national team at Gent Wevelgem U23, the Tour of Flanders and the ZLM Tour.”
Speaking on his personal goals for the season, Andreas was very keen to outline his desire to win again. He also targets his National U23 Road Race title, after moving up on the podium every season he has raced as a U23 so far.
“I hope to do well at the U23 Nations Cup events, and hopefully get a win in one of them again this year. Another goal is to win the U23 National RR, as I got third and second the past two years, so it should be a good chance to be on top of the podium. As I stated earlier, I think I do best in the UCI events in terrain like you find in Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands, therefore I’m focusing on these events.”
Building on his previous statements that he loves racing in Belgium and sees himself as a puncheur who possesses a fast sprint, the race Andreas wishes to win most as a pro is very suited to his capabilities.
“That would be the Tour of Flanders. it’s always been one of my favorite races to watch, and a dream of mine to win it one day.”
Thanks to Andreas for taking part in the interview and we wish him all the best in the upcoming Nations Cup races, as well as the rest of his season. We also wish to thank Riwal CeramicSpeed Cycling Team press officer Finn Tage Jensen for setting up this interview. If you want to follow Andreas on social media, his Twitter handle is @Stokbro.