The German made his season debut at the Volta Ciclista a Murcia, testing the legs in the opening stage before a crash in the closing ten kilometers derailed his early season plans. Although Geschke was able to finish the stage, a post-race X-Ray confirmed a broken elbow. “I felt like I was in good shape and that I was on track for the spring. I definitely could have imagined a nicer start to my first race with CCC Team,” Geschke said at the time.
Fast forward through six weeks of recovery and regaining fitness, and Geschke hit the reset button at Volta Ciclista a Catalunya. He spent the week getting back into the racing rhythm with no expectations. As the race rolled into Barcelona, the finish line was in sight. But, cycling can be a cruel sport. A high-speed crash on the descent of the Barcelona circuit took Geschke down, along with many others. With speeds edging over 70 kilometers per hour, Geschke found himself under a pile of riders with a broken collarbone and four fractured ribs. “Good news: technically it can only get better from now on,” Geschke said optimistically a week later after the collarbone fracture has been successfully secured surgically.
Geschke eventually got his season back on track. A third place on stage three of the Tour of California was a good confidence boost. A gutsy solo attack on stage 15 of the Tour de France, reminiscent of his 2015 stage win, showed Geschke was finding his form. Scoring the King of the Mountains jersey at CCC Team’s home race, the Tour of Poland, saw him return to the podium. The rest of the season rolled on and Geschke wrapped things up at Il Lombardia before a well-deserved off season.
That brings us to 2020. Geschke’s fresh start 2.0.
If you asked anyone before the 2020 Santos Tour Down Under to name their fantasy General Classification podium, Simon Geschke was probably not on that list. After all, his previous best result was 18th overall in 2015 and Geschke had never stood on the podium at a WorldTour stage race. But, sometimes things just fall into place. If Geschke’s start to the 2020 season has shown anything, it’s that he knows how to bounce back.
A Bit Too Much Bad Luck
“My 2019 season didn’t really start until May because there were so many set backs with the crashes and injuries so that was pretty bad. For me, I didn’t feel good enough until the Tour of Poland. In the Tour de France, I was alright for a couple of days but after my two crashes, I was always catching up a bit to get in shape. The first half of last year was pretty bad and compared to this year, it’s really nice to finish third in a WorldTour stage race.
“Crashes are unfortunately a part of bike racing. But, it felt like a bit too much bad luck to believe. I’ve never had two bad crashes so close together, in just six race days. The crash in Catalunya was a high speed crash with a lot of guys on top of me. So, I didn’t feel good in the bunch for a long time. The brain is a funny thing and it sends signals.
I was afraid of crashing again, especially when we were going fast.”
The Road to Down Under
“I had a really good winter and it was important for me to have a good start to this season. I was not imaging that I could be this good in January because I didn’t do so many special things this winter. I trained a bit more specifically in December because I knew that I would come to Australia but I didn’t start training until mid-November so it wasn’t such a long time to prepare. I also didn’t prepare to do the General Classification. I was here mainly to support Paddy Bevin.
I wasn’t actually super optimistic to do a top ten when Paddy was out of the race before it even started, and I was the only GC card the team could play. Of course, I thought a top ten would be nice but I wasn’t sure, I thought it was unrealistic. Then, I went really well on Paracombe and even better on Willunga. It was just perfect and I surprised even myself.
Feeling the Pressure
“I felt the pressure but it wasn’t from the team. It was pressure on myself. The team didn’t put a lot of pressure on me which was nice but as an athlete, you always put pressure on yourself. You want to be good. The only pressure was from myself because this was a big chance and when you get a chance, you want to take it. I’m old enough to not get too nervous and I knew the team would know it wasn’t the end of the world if I finished outside of the top ten at the end of the week.”
Flying Under the Radar
“For sure, I was not the favorite for the Tour Down Under. I surprised myself so for sure, I surprised others as well.
“Flying under the radar is not a bad thing. It makes things easier. It is harder to always be the favorite and not always be able to deliver. For me, it’s much better to fly under the radar. It’s January, the season is still long and everything depends on the next races. It’s definitely not easy to finish high on the GC at the Tour Down Under but this is just the start of the season. It gives me a lot of confidence though. When you look at the top ten, there are a lot of world class rider and I was even in front of some of them so that’s a really nice confidence boost that I didn’t have last year.”
The Year Ahead
“It’s a perfect start to the season knowing that I can do well and when it is a world class field, like it was here, you can follow and even finish in front of some really good guys. I hope it stays like that during the spring. I didn’t know that so many people were following me from around the world. It’s really nice to see that people are happy that I am back on track because last year, I got a lot of messages but for negative reasons. Now, finally, it’s to congratulate me for a good result.
“The spring is always a big goal for me, there are a lot of nice races that I like such as Strade Bianche and the Ardennes Classics. The Tour of Algarve is a race I really like. After Australia, the focus is on training again and being in good shape until the end of the Spring Classics campaign, which ends with Frankfurt. After my results here in Australia, I’m really excited for the rest of the season.”
📷 Chris Auld