The Home Life: Jakob Fuglsang interview

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A dramatic 1,000-kilometre escape from Monaco, Monopoly with the in-laws, building a house: it’s been a wild lockdown for Astana leader Jakob Fuglsang

Photographs: Offside/L'Equipe
Jakob Fuglsang
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Astana rider Jakob Fuglsang is coming off the best twelve months of his career, highlighted by triumphs at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Critérium du Dauphiné. He’s a rare beast too – a cyclist who has won a bike race in 2020, taking a stage and the overall of the Ruta del Sol in February.

We caught up with the 35-year-old Dane for the latest of our Home Life Series – quirky questions and positive vibes to find out more about the person racing bikes.

Rouleur: Good afternoon, how’s everything going?
It’s going good. Under the circumstances, I can’t complain. I’m in Luxembourg now, where my wife is from. We escaped from Monaco, where we normally live, just before the complete lockdown just in time.

My wife had her mother-in-law down to help our with our daughter, who is nearly three, because I was supposed to be at the races. Her father was also supposed to come down, to celebrate our birthdays in March. But his flight home got cancelled. He was talking about coming down by car and the chaos in Luxembourg.

Once we realised that would probably happen in Monaco, we decided one morning it was better to get out. Full lockdown there would mean sitting in our apartment basically 24-7 and out daughter being inside all day long would be a nightmare, I think. At least my parents-in-law have a small garden and she can go out.

Also, for now, I’m still allowed to go out alone on the bike in Luxembourg, so I don’t have to spend every day on the rollers. I can still enjoy some sun and fresh air.

On the attack at the 2020 Ruta del Sol / Photo : Yuzuru Sunada via Presse Sports

It sounds quite stressful. How was the process of packing everything? Driving from Monaco to Luxembourg is also a very long way.
Yeah, we made a fast decision: if there’s a lockdown and we have to stay inside, it’s better to be in Luxembourg and get out of Monaco by three pm because it’s 1,000 kilometres to drive.

My wife’s godfather, who is a doctor, was like ‘no airports, because they’re the most contamined place you can go’. It’s better to drive, only stop at gas stations to get fuel and nothing else. Then you keep going.

So we packed in a rush and forgot half of what we had to take. I managed to come to Luxembourg and was like ‘hmm, bike clothes’ – I really have a limited amount with me. Some were in the laundry, which I’d meant to take there…

And of course, you’re limited with what you can take in the car. To begin with, it was like now we leave, then we’ll see: maybe we have to stay a week, 10 days, maybe two weeks. Now we’re here for a month already and maybe for another.

I was lucky enough to get myself a leg press so I occupied one of the parking spaces in the basement with that and my Tacx trainer, so I have my little fitness studio down there. It’s not perfect, but it could be a lot worse.

So how has your daily routine changed in the last four weeks?
Of course, there’s not so much stress to get on the bike in the morning. Some days I go out for a small spin, others I just ride inside. My wife goes for a run in the morning and I stay with our daughter, doing some puzzles, going out with her in the garden or riding her bike in the street.

Then I do an hour or two on the Tacx, or maybe use the leg press, or go out for a few hours if the weather is good – it’s been super recently. Then of course, in the evening, I’m hanging here with my parents-in-law. Normally in the evening, we watch a movie or play some games.

We have been playing card games, Yahtzee, Monopoly the other day. We get through it all.

Putting Tour champ Bernal under pressure at the 2019 Giro dell’Emilia / Photo : Yuzuru Sunada via Presse Sports

And are you quite a competitive person? Do you want to be winning everything?
No, no, when it comes to that kind of thing, I’m a little more easy – I have enough competition in my professional life in general. Though my wife and in-laws like to win; let’s say, they’re not losers when it comes to games.

My father-in-law likes to put some money on the table, so at least it brings something to winning. Not big money, but it has to be something. It can get quite serious!

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The Astana press officer told me you’ve made a little house for your daughter. Is that correct?
[shows garden on video] Together with my father-in-law, who is going crazy as he’s not working at the moment, we went to a gardener friend of his, we got some pallets and used them to build a small house for our daughter. It was a fun little challenge.

We’re coming up to the anniversary of your Liège-Bastogne-Liège win. I was wondering if you’re planning to commemorate it with a 260-kilometre Tacx ride or even on the roads in Luxembourg?
I don’t think so. Maybe Liège-Bastogne-Liège on TacXperience, where you go and ride it; I’ve done it twice. One day, I had the race running next to me on the computer, and another day we did the last part of the parcours with the team. I might do the same if the weather is not too good.

But I won’t go out and do 260k, that’s for sure. I think that’s not the purpose of the fact you can still go out. For the moment, without knowing anything about the race calendar and schedule, I think it doesn’t do anything to ride 260 kilometres – even though I miss riding the Classics.

There’s only one Monument you’ve never raced, Paris-Roubaix.
There’s two – I also never did Milano-Sanremo.

Okay; do you have any ambitions to do those two in the next few years?
Milano-Sanremo is not anything special to me, but Paris-Roubaix is something I’d really love to do at one point. When I get closer to the end of my career and maybe it’s a little less important in case I crash.

I think it’s something a professional bike rider should do once in their career, at least to try it.

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Of course it’s all down to planning, when you look at the season, you have to be good here and there, the Ardennes Classics comes afterwards. So for now, it’s not really been possible. Maybe with the new calendar, if they put it in a good spot and say ‘okay, nothing to risk, go and race it and see what it brings.’

I had some good experiences from the cobbles in the Tour de France, I know it’s something different once you have 200 riders on the start line and it’s a one-day race and they all want to win it, compared to a Grand Tour stage where ten want to win it, and 100 just want to get through it.

Your surname Fuglsang means bird song in English. What’s your favourite bird?
That’s a good question. I think penguins are quite cool – you call it a bird, but it cannot fly. Because they’re always dressed nice.

Eagles are also cool. I mean, in Denmark, normally when you have a bird song, it’s a little grey bird singing something beautiful, but that’s not my favourite.

Jakob Fuglsang’s quickfire round

Tea or coffee? Coffee.
Pasta or pizza? Pizza – I have enough pasta in everyday life.
City or countryside? Countryside.
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
Legwarmers – under socks or over socks? Over socks.
Taylor Swift or Rihanna? No clue. Neither!
Left or right? Right.
Lamborghini or Ferrari? I’ll go for the Lambo.
France or Italy? Italy.
Instagram or Twitter? Instagram. My Twitter account is dead, more or less.
Too hot or too cold? Too hot.



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