Germany’s Jakob Gessner has made a really good start to his 2021 season, and the Rad-Net Rose Team rider has yet to get to his specialist terrain, the big climbs.
I caught up with the German over the phone ahead of Trofeo Piva and Giro del Belvedere, and we discussed his career, season goals and his upbringing.
Read on to find out more about the third year U23, who is also a super nice guy I must say!
“2020 was a rollercoaster. I had some ups and downs in my private life, as well as the races. It was a year to overcome, I would say. In the national races in Germany, I think I showed I am a rider for the coming seasons. I was 2nd overall in the series and 3rd in the final race, which had mountains. I wasn’t able to show much in the international races, with races being cancelled too. I was solid in the break at the European U23 Champs, getting caught on the final lap, which was a solid performance. It wasn’t the results I wanted at the start of the season, but I did some good races and it will serve me well for the future.”
As well as some obvious physical strengths, Jakob has some big mental advantages too that he can rely on in tough moments of races.
“Of course I can climb well, but also consistently, day after day without having a bad day. The team can count on me for that. But I also have good race vision and instincts. I seem to be able to spot which breaks are good and which breaks are bad. This awareness is not always noticeable.”
Before we came to talk about his solid start to 2021, I wanted to take Jakob back to the first races after lockdown: he did the Tour de l’Ain, a battleground for Tour winners like Bernal, Vuelta winner Roglic and up and coming talent Joao Almeida. It was of course a hard race and Jakob learned just how good the Tour contenders are.
“That was really hard. It was really controlled by the Jumbo-Visma group. For me, I was more stronger for racing there. It was mentally good for me, even if it wasn’t a top result, but it can maybe show the good level I need to get to the WorldTour. I also felt more motivated and wanted to work even harder to become successful. It was very hard to go with Bernal and Roglic in the mountains, but it was also a pleasure to race with them.”
We also had a quick chat about Jakob’s older brother Konrad, who was a racer with Leopard when I first started my site. He was more of a sprinter and Classics rider, so very different to Jakob. This fascinated me, as riders like the Yates brothers, or the Izagirre’s, are always similar.
“Konrad came first, I guess I always wanted to be like him. It was nice to have him in the sport, to get tips and share stories. We have a good relationship, I’d say we speak every other day. We were totally different riders as you say. He ended his career to study and focus on other things. Perhaps we have different commitment levels, he for sure does not love the mountains! Then there’s me, maybe I love them too much to say no! Maybe I will also become a Classics rider in the future too, because we see how much the sport has changed with rider types in the past five years, so maybe this will continue.”
After a few one-day races in Croatia, Jakob posted 20th overall at the Istrian Spring Trophy, which featured a parcours that was a big too “easy” for his skillset. 18th at Belvedere a few days after our chat would also follow.
“I was solid in Istria with 20th on GC. The hilltop finish was a bit short for me and not as difficult as I expected. It was a good open to the season though, and confirmed my winter training, but I need more races to get some better feelings in the races. I’m hoping to be a lot stronger by the end of April, when the races suit me more, and I can take another step forward.”
For some goals, Jakob of course wishes to continue his development like all riders, including the best WorldTour guys, wish to do. But he also has some races circled that he wants to do the maximum result possible at as well.
“I want to develop like in the past, but also to do some better results and get a big win. I want to show my strengths on the climbs and also in the hard races with reduced group finishes. Race wise, I’d say the Peace Race and l’Avenir with the national team. Also the U23 German championships, but at the moment we don’t have those this season, but I’m hoping in the end they will go ahead. As a team, we are strong and if we keep riding like in the last weeks, getting in the flow, we will find it easy to be successful. We can win races, and for sure be top five or ten in every race I think.”
Jakob, who has the Stelvio from Prat as his favourite climb (used also in this past season’s elite Giro), says he would love to win a stage in the world’s biggest race, as well as a very unpredictable Classic.
“I’d say my dream win is a Tour stage. I always watched the Tour, and there’s so much emotion at that race. Every team works so hard to be there and it’s the biggest race in the calendar for me. If I could choose how I’d win, I’d say solo because you can feel more emption that way than if you sprint all the way to the line. Other than that, I’d say Amstel Gold. Again there’s a lot of feeling and history at this race, and the parcours in the Ardennes is brutal. It suits me perfectly and in the coming seasons, if I can keep developing, maybe it can be a race for me.”
Jakob is a super strong rider, and his team has a good track record of developing pro riders too. His schedule should be a good mix of UCI races, pro races and U23 races, and I think we will see a lot of Gessner in 2021.
U23 Cycling Zone wishes to thank Jakob for taking the time to answer my call and answering the questions I had so fully. I also wish to thank Uli Muller at Rad-Net Rose Team for coordinating the interview. You can find Jakob on Instagram here. Rad-Net Rose can be found on Instagram here.