Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009

I realized last night that I haven’t sent in a blog in quite some time … The last one coming after the Vuelta, so I thought it would be good to check-in.

Let’s see … There’s not a whole lot that has happened since then - A few meetings, but mainly at home or in the office. I guess it’s been one of the more “quieter” months of 2008, but I’m sure that won’t last for long! Speaking of quieter … So is the house (at least during the day). Victoria is back in school and is enjoying herself, which I hope is an indication of what’s to come in the future. Her teachers say she is very bright and loves to learn! Eva and I couldn’t be prouder!

So the 2008 season is over, with Team Astana finishing quite strong with a second place finish at the Giro di Lombardia. It’s nice to see us perform well in the one-day races. It’s also good to see Jani put together a number of strong performances. There are no doubts that he is a talented rider and we will continue to work with him to maximize his potential.

The season may be over for some, but to be honest, I feel like 2009 has already started. If you’re on the management side, there’s no real “off-season.” Those couple months without races need to be filled with heavy planning and intensive preparation for the next season. A rider’s schedule is a little better, but not much. It’s not long before they’re back on the bike and training for 2009. I may be biased, but I think this is another reason why our sport is the most intensive sport out there. Many other sports have much longer off-seasons, allowing more time for both the athletes and staff to recharge the batteries and prepare for the next seasons. I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m complaining … Just acknowledging a point that I often feel is neglected.

I had a good meeting last week with Mr. Akhmetov, who is the most influential person in Kazakhstan cycling and the team. He’s very happy with how far we’ve come in the last year and I thanked him for giving me the trust and confidence to lead his team. We’re all looking forward to the 2009 season and are hoping to build on this year’s success!

And something else I’m looking forward to in 2009, which I failed to mention in my last posting – Working with Dirk Demol. Dirk is a great sports director, but an even better person and I’m glad he will join me at Team Astana. If you followed our teams the past decade then you know there’s no doubting his experience and knowledge when it comes to racing, especially the Classics! Just another piece to the puzzle that will make us a stronger team!

Well, I have a couple more weeks in Spain before I head to Belgium for my first European book tour. Over the last few months you’ve heard a lot about “We Might as Well Win”. It’s the same book, just written in Dutch and called “Alleen Winnen Telt”! If you’re from the region, then you know November is a big book month with the Antwerp Book Fair. It just so happens that it coincides with my hometown's book fair (Izegem) so I’ll stop by there on Sunday, November 8. It will be extra special for me to have my family and friends in attendance. It also made sense to do something at the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderan, so we’ll be stopping there on Friday, November 7th! Here is where you can find all the info. On a side note, if you’re ever in Belgium, I highly suggest you visit the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen. It’s quite a special place for us Belgians and all fans of our sport!

Well it’s time to pick Victoria up from school. I’ll check in soon – Johan

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