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Busy in Belgium!

Hello –

On the plane back to Madrid and I thought I would take some time to fill you in on the past few days in Belgium. Victoria is playing with her stuffed animal dog that comes with a small cage. It is the latest toy she loves to play with, but I imagine it will only be a few more days till she finds something new! And Eva is playing with her as well, so this seems like a good time for a brief update. But you never know when my tray table may become part of the action!!

I talk about Victoria quite a bit, but much to people’s disappointment, never have any updated photos to share. Well, here is a great one we took this past weekend! People say she looks just like me, and as a proud parent that puts the biggest smile on my face!

So Victoria and Eva came along on the book tour trip to spend some quality time with grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. I have a pretty big family so it’s always fun for her … Running around and playing with her older cousins. And of course it’s great for me as well to see my mom and siblings. So it worked out well … A book tour and family reunion in one trip!

The weekend was quite busy, but Eva, Victoria and I spent today (Tuesday) in Brussels just relaxing. We were actually going to take Victoria to some fun children activities and do a little shopping, but we forgot that everything was closed due to the holiday (honoring the completion of the World War). Though it didn’t go as planned, I must say that it ended up being a nice day … Sleeping in late and just relaxing in the room. Always good to recharge the batteries!!

As for the book tour – I am very pleased!. It’s not often that I’m back in Belgium, so we took advantage of the time and opportunity. We did a number of national tv programs and radio … Talking about the book, but of course people want to know about Lance, Alberto and the rest of the team. There was an interesting radio show on Sunday morning that touched on numerous cycling and non-cycling topics. They even called up my mom and legendary mechanic Julien De Vriese for some additional stories.

I would like to thank all the people who came out to support me at the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen, Antwerp Bookfair and Izegem Bookfair. It was very special to see so many familiar faces, including members of the Team Astana staff, as well as friends and neighbors from my hometown of Izegem. I must say that it was a bit sentimental going to the Izegem bookfair. I remember attending the fair with my parents when I was a little boy and here I am a few decades later signing my very own book. I walked into the room and immediately had flashbacks … Funny, but I remember the room being much bigger back then! My mom and family attended and I think my mom had a permanent smile on her face throughout the entire interview and signing! Maybe I should hire her because she did a good job of telling all of Izegem that I would be there! Now that I have Victoria in my life, I completely understand a parent’s joy and pride.

Monday was spent at the service course in Brakel meeting with the Sports Directors. A good opportunity for everyone to get together and discuss the 2009 season, including what races the team will participate in. We also discussed a PRELIMINARY rider schedule. I put preliminary in caps, because it will change a few more times before the season begins. But at the very least, it gives us a good basis when we go to camp (in a few weeks) and discuss where we think each rider can excel and help not only himself, but also the team. We spend quite a bit of time with each rider at camp talking about both personal and team goals. I’ve always found that talking individually with each rider before the season is extremely beneficial and helps eliminate false expectations. Plus it’s always easier to listen to concerns before the season starts, as opposed to a day before a race starts! In the end, it just comes down to simple communication … Maybe easier said then done for most, but it’s really something that I found to be successful!

Ok, we’re in our final approach into Madrid … Laptops off, seats in the upright position and tray tables stowed and locked.

We’ll talk soon.

Thanks –

Johan

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