During the finished on Sunday race of Szlakiem Bursztynowym – Hellena Tour, the 23-year-old Grzegorz Stępniak became the winner of two stages and he completed the race in the second position of the general classification. Before that, at a race in Portugal – Volta ao Alantejo, he ended stages three times among the best ten contestants, and in one of the stages he took the second place.
He talked about his preparations for the season and the first starts in the professional peloton in a short interview.
The successes at the beginning of the season show that you had worked hard during the winter time. How did you preparations for the season go?
The whole preparations for starts in the cycling season of 2012 were based on training camps together with the whole team, as well as on my individual trainings. We started with a training camp in the LAS hotel in Piechowice, where we focused on building up strength and endurance. Next, in Spain, first in Lloret de Mar then in Benidorm, we trained on the road, increasing gradually the workload, building up the kilometre base at the same time. Quite hard trainings were interwoven with the first losses, among others during the race of Vuelta Murcia and Volta ao Alantejo. During the preparations for the first starts I had a problem with my knee, luckily thanks to the help from director Robert Krajewski I quickly got over that injury and during the race in Portugal it was not bad.
The performance during the Volta ao Alantejo race must be considered much successful. What are your impressions about that race?
In Portugal I had had for the first time an opportunity to feel what competition and fight in the professional peloton is like. I felt, that I was already in quite a good form and I tried in each stage to join the struggle for the stage win. I could also feel what the help from the team means, when I was led-out for the finish. Although I did not manage to win any of the stages, I think that I and the whole team showed our best side.
The next very good performance was given by you locally. How do you evaluate your participation in the Szlakiem Bursztynowym race?
Two stage wins make me much glad and they gave me more self-confidence. It is very important for a sprinter. Moreover, the competition against the also young rider, Konrad Dąbkowski (BDC) gives me strength and motivates me. ‘Rutek’s’ win and my second place in the general classification – what else to want. I think that the whole race may be evaluated positively.
Are your excellently worked out finishes an effect of good cooperation of the whole team and leading you out for the finish?
Yes, as for the cooperation in the team, I am worrying only about the final 200-300 metres, the rest is done by the team-mates. I have to only complete well what they have worked out during the whole stage. If we win, the victory is of us all together.
Soon the start in the race of Szlakiem Grodów Piastowskich (an important start for the team). You have been appointed for the line-up of the team for that race. What goals are you setting yourself for that start?
As for the Szlakiem Grodów Piastowskich race, it is one of the major goals of our team, and for me the priority for the first part of the season. Goals? I would like to do well in the whole race, and I am dreaming of winning the stage where the sponsor is based, that is in Polkowice. And what it will be like, we will see.