“The Isaac Element is one of the better, if not the best, bike I have EVER raced.”
After four years Down Under with Orica-GreenEDGE, Pieter Weening is going Dutch again with Roompot Oranje Peloton. We talked to Pieter on the eve of his ‘home match’ in the Eneco Tour, his role as road captain and his racing bicycle: the Isaac Element. We also asked him what he thinks about the widely-discussed disc brakes.
The 35-year-old Frisian lives in Lanaken (Belgium), where the sixth stage of the Eneco Tour ends. The route goes right through the very area where he trains. “I know all of the roads we’ll be racing on tomorrow. There isn’t a single one that I haven’t been on.”
YOU’RE THE OLDEST ON THE TEAM. WHAT CAN THE YOUNGER RACERS LEARN FROM YOU?
“When we talk about race scenarios, I’ve experienced virtually every situation many times. Mostly this manifests itself into me being able to keep everyone calm because I know what’s coming. I know the crucial moments to be out in front on many routes. I have been in every race in Limburg multiple times, and obviously this is where I train, too. I know the area like the back of my hand. The Eneco Tour is a World Tour race and the riders on the starting line are not guys you’re going to breeze past. Our team’s job is to go full-force. Letting it come down to a sprint won’t work for us. Those are the things that you just know. At Orica, I was riding with guys who had won major races. I try to instil that winner’s mentality in the younger riders I’m racing with now. On a team like Roompot, they can often pursue their individual opportunities, whereas on a major team they tend to start out as a domestique. I think it’s fantastic to see how these younger guys lean on the more experienced riders on the team and do not want to stay behind when it’s time to attack the race. Most of the young riders have raced primarily in the flat Netherlands and already chalked up a lot of wins. Outside the Netherlands, the route tends to be hilly, which instantly makes it quite a bit more difficult. I try to make them aware of the fact that they are in a learning process, and that are only getting better.”
DURING MULTI-DAY STAGE RACES, INCLUDING THE ENECO TOUR, YOU TRAVEL FROM HOTEL TO HOTEL. WHAT IS IT LIKE FOR YOU?
“We always finish around 5pm, right as most commuters are heading home. If we’re travelling from city to city, we often end up stuck in traffic. If I noticed something about the bicycle during the race, I have plenty of time on the bus to discuss it with the mechanic or one of the team leaders so they can adjust it before the next race.
HOW DOES ISAAC ANTICIPATE YOUR PREFERENCES IN TERMS OF THE MATERIAL?
“The Isaac Element is a very light bicycle, but at the same time it’s very rigid at the bracket. For a climber like me, this combination is invaluable, and it’s one of the better, if not the best, bicycles I’ve ridden so far. If you want to compete at the highest level, you have to have access to the best material, otherwise you’re beaten from the very start. When I look at our time trial bikes, it’s plain to see that Isaac has done everything in its power to make sure the Isaac Muon meets our wishes and needs as best as possible. If I have any comments, I tell our mechanics, who in turn will share these with Isaac to incorporate in the bike’s ongoing development.”
ROOMPOT ORANJE PELOTON WAS THE FIRST TO RIDE WITH DISC BRAKES IN A WORLD TOUR RACE. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON RIDING WITH DISC BRAKES?
“As far as braking power goes it’s certainly a lot better. However, I’m against mixed cycling in a race. The difference in braking power is massive, which can cause dangerous situations. Plus, carrying replacement parts for both systems makes things a lot more difficult for the service cars. Nevertheless, I’m convinced everyone will switch to disc brakes. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, it’s that simple.
ISAAC’S SELECTION OF BIKES WITH DISC BRAKES FOR RECREATIONAL CYCLISTS CONTINUES TO INCREASE. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THIS DEVELOPMENT?
“Disc brakes already offer recreational cyclists a huge advantage. They make the breaking distance much shorter, especially in wet weather conditions. If it has rained, I notice that a wheel has to make five or six revolutions before the rim is dry enough to be able to brake properly. Recreational cyclists with carbon rims simply don’t have as much experience with this. Disc brakes are a significantly more sustainable choice for your rims too. Disc pads last considerably longer than a set of brake pads.
WHAT IS YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE LIKE WHEN THERE ISN’T ANY RACE?
“Outside of racing it’s all about training. After breakfast I get on the bike, which takes up the bulk of my day. I always take a month off after the summer season. From mid-November onward it’s back to biking, although the winter season is not as intensive as spring or summer. It means I have a lot more time for other activities, such as watching football and going out to dinner with friends. You’ll never catch me in a pub at three in the morning, though.”