"For racing on this level, you pretty much need to peak all season" - Get to know our young Dane Frederik Wandahl
Red and white, Danish Dynamite - get to know our only rider from Scandinavia, Frederik Wandahl. Discover how Frederik escapes the not very pro-cyclist-friendly Scandinavian winter, the rough idea of the time after retiring from cycling he still needs to convince his girlfriend of, and the very emotional story behind his pre-race thoughts.
It’s your second year with BORA - hansgrohe now - what do you like about the team?
On the one hand, it’s very professional, but o the other, it’s also a big family. I really like the open communication that we have with our coaches and sports directors. We get a lot of freedom from them and thereby also the chance to really find our place in the cycling world.
How was your first year with BORA - hansgrohe?
My first year with the team was super tough, I would say. It was my first year on the pro level and after 2020 where I didn’t have too many race days, it definitely was a big step for me. Physically and mentally, it was an intense year but I would say that I’ve learned a lot, which is good, I think.
How would you describe your personal development since you joined the team?
I think I’ve developed a lot since I joined the team. I’ve grown as a cyclist but also as a person - to be ready for races on such a high level I think it’s really important to develop on both levels. The team and also my teammates helped me a lot last year and I really feel that I’m not a shy young rider anymore, but someone who’s ready to race with the big boys.
What’s your approach to the 2022 season? What are your goals?
First of all, it’s important for me to further develop and grow as a rider. One example is that I would like to develop my race intelligence for the finals. Sometimes I’ve experienced problems reading the finale and so wasn’t able to go for a better result. For the smaller races I want to try for my own results, and for the big races I want to perform as best as I can and support the team as well as possible.
Did you change anything in your preparation this year?
Not spending a lot of time at home and spending the winter in Palma basically was the main change that I made in my preparation. I really like it here and I’d say it’s a totally new level of winter training in the sunny south. In addition to this, my experiences from last year also changed my mindset and approach to cycling.
Is there something you learned from the past two years that helps you to chase your goals? Physically and mentally?
Physically I’d say I’ve learned a lot about how my body reacts and how my body performs in moments of stress. I think I also adapted to cycling on the WorldTour level, which also means more days on the road, more race days, more traveling.
On the mental side I’ve learned to always keep my head up and see the positive things. Staying in a good mood and not worrying too much helps me to stay mentally healthy.
When will be your fist peak in 2022?
My first peak will be around Tour of the Basque Country and the keep the shape until Tour of Norway. But for racing on this level, you pretty much need to peak all season. Otherwise, you can’t even support your teammates. So having my shape on a really high level is the general goal for the whole season.
What’s most important for you in cycling? Why are you still motived?
Of course it’s my goals that keep me motivated. Being better than yesterday is my daily goal - that really keeps my spirits high. But apart from this, having a good and well-organised life outside the cycling world is also very important to me. Having good personal surroundings helps me to perform well on the bike.
Describe the importance of cycling in Denmark
Cycling is really big in Denmark! This year we have the Grand Depart, the start of the Tour de France, in Denmark which will definitely put our country even more on the map in the cycling world. We have so many strong cyclists in Denmark, which is pretty cool for such a small country. The Tour is definitely going to be another step for cycling in Denmark and I hope it keeps developing like this.
What’s your favourite moment on a race day?
One of my favourite moments definitely was when Peter Sagan won the stage of Volta Catalunya last year. We worked very hard for this as team pretty much from kilometre 0 onwards. When you’ve put in a massive amount of work and then get the info on the radio that your team mate took the win in the end - man that’s just such a relief and such an incredible feeling! Personally, my second place at the nationals was a very special moment. I was so close to winning but in the end, I was so happy with taking the silver medal.
Most embarrassing or funniest moment in a race/on the bike?
Definitely when we’re having fun as a team but I can’t really pick one single moment.
You live in Denmark - Scandinavian winters are long and not very pro-cyclist-friendly – have you ever thought about moving further south?
Oh we really have long winters! That was the reason I decided to move to the sunny south of Mallorca. The weather and the terrain are just perfect for a pro cyclist on this island. Scandinavian winters are far from ideal for a pro cyclist.
What do you do when you need some time off the bike and cycling? What “frees” your mind or keeps you grounded?
Skiing in winter really frees my mind and hanging out with friends always helps me to not think about cycling. When I’m back home I like to go fishing - that’s so relaxing and feels a bit like meditation.
Where do you see yourself in 2 or 3 years as a cyclist? And where do you see yourself as a person 10 or 15 years from now?
In 2-3 years I absolutely still see myself as a pro cyclist. I hope my development will be progressing along the right path, and that I’ll have already won some bike races in three years’ time.
In 10-15, I’m probably closer to the end of my pro cyclist life. I can’t imagine having a 9 to 5 office job then. Instead, I’m dreaming about having a little farm. My girlfriend isn’t super stoked about my dream of having a farm but maybe she’ll be ok with a small one.
Desicribe cycling in 3 words.
Crazy - fast - unpredictable
What would your autobiography be titled?
Difficult to say… “The life on the road,” as there is so much traveling involved in cycling or maybe “Paincave,” or “Being in the zone“
It probably wouldn’t only be about cycling as there is so much more in the life of a professional cyclist. It’s basically a way of life and it definitely is a journey with so many ups and downs, the people you meet, the places you roam and the feelings you have.
Do you have any interesting/strange rituals or good luck charms at races?
I don’t have a real ritual or good luck charm. But before every I race, I always take some time for myself, a couple of quiet moments to think about what we are doing here. In those moments I particularly think about a good friend who passed away some years ago. We shared the same dream of becoming pro cyclists and we always motivated each other. So now that I am a pro cyclist and he isn’t here anymore… somehow I feel like it’s my task to also ride for him and to live his dream as well. I just wish he was here, racing bikes with me!
Thank you very much for the interview Frederik!