Last weekend, Liam and I headed to Tuscany to meet up with Belgian cyclist Jasper Stuyven. Jasper is a first-year professional with the new Trek Factory Racing World Tour team. At 21 years of age, Jasper has had a very impressive start to his cycling career. In 2009, he won the Junior World Championships of road cycling in Moscow. In 2010, he won the junior race of the brutal Paris-Roubaix cobbled classic. In 2011, he was 2nd in the under 23 version of Paris-Roubaix. Jasper won the Provincial Championships in 2012, and last year, in 2013, he had a stage victory at the Tour de Beauce and an overall win at the Tour Alentejo in Portugal. The best way to describe Jasper’s riding so far would be steady, dedicated progression in the sport.
|Jasper and Liam rolling in the Tuscan sun|
Earlier in the month we contacted Jasper through a mutual friend and, it just so happened, we would all be in Lucca, Italy at the same time in the end of February. Our idea was to meet up and go for a ride or part of a ride (depending on what Jasper had in store for the day), and then sit down and do a video interview for the blog. Jasper liked the concept and sent us an email suggesting that he could take us on one of his favorite “recovery” rides to the famous Il Re Del Cappuccino (Cappuccino King) in Monsummano Terme.
|Signor Umberto Galligini (the King of Cappuccino)|
It was on… What a way to begin our yearly winter training camp in Lucca! We met up with Jasper and his childhood friend Jonas Cortoos on a beautiful late February day in Lucca. We had a 70k spin out to Monsummano Terme through olive groves and hills in the Tuscan sun. Liam and I had never been to the Cappuccino King, although we had heard of it – it is a legend in cycling lore. For years great riders have been dropping into this little bar for a cup of, what is quite possibly, the best cappuccino in Italy. The owner Signor Umberto Galligani and his family are true artists – maestros of coffee. For 64 years they have been serving up mouth watering cappuccino at Bar Galligani. Jasper first visited the bar last year during the world championships in Florence. When he doesn’t have to train too hard or too long he likes to pop in for a mid-ride cup of cappuccino. We now know why – it’s truly incredible.
|Signing the Il Re Del Cappuccino guest book|
At the coffee bar, we were able to sit down and speak with Jasper about his pro debut at the Tour of Qatar, the move up to Trek Factory from the Bontrager/Livestrong developmental team, his training, his goals for the season and the future, and advice for a cyclist Liam’s age (13 years old). We had a great talk. It was awesome that Jasper was willing to take the time to share some of his knowledge and experience with us.
Jasper is Belgian and I don’t think that it will come as a surprise to know that his true passion is the classics. He grew up watching these races, he has won and placed well in the Junior and U-23 versions, and his dream is to one day win the Paris-Roubaix professional race – the Queen of the Classics. It is an awesome dream; one that both Liam and I believe Jasper has the potential to be able to achieve in the future. We hope to be in Roubaix cheering him on the day he fulfills his dream.
|The ride back fueled on cappuccino|
After the cappuccino, we got on the bikes and headed out for more riding in the Tuscan sunshine on our way back to Lucca. When we got back to town, we wished Jasper luck with his upcoming races in Sud Ardèche and Belgium and said our goodbyes to both him and Jonas. We came away from the experience both inspired and motivated for the Tuscan training week ahead.
|Jasper, Liam and Jonas back in Lucca|
Live Strong, Train Safe and Live Well!
This is Bill and Liam signing out.