Cyclingheroes: You rode for Wiesenhof last year. The team had to stop its operations after
title sponsor Wiesenhof left the sport. Was it a sad farewell?
Stefan van Dijk: At first things looked good but then we suddenly heard that the sponsor would
not continue. Jens Heppner and Raphael Schweda [team managers of Wiesenhof - Felt, editor] immediately looked for a new sponsor
but unfortunately they didn't succeed. Also because of the negative headlines in Germany.
Cyclingheroes: You signed with Mitsubishi - Jartazi. Do you like your new team?
Stefan van Dijk:
I came to the team to be one of the captains. They are doing everything to
make it to a succes. Staff and riders are highly motivated and it really feels good to be here. We just finished a training
camp [we did this interview on January 22, editor] and that was good to learn to know each other. There are a lot of
new faces for me and some people I already knew. My first race for Mitsubishi will be Besseges
and I am looking forward to it. Its always fun to race again after a long winter with lot of training.
Cyclingheroes: How do you look back at the past season?
Stefan van Dijk: I had a lot of bad luck. I had a broken finger, a broken collar bone and a
bacterie in my stomach so I only raced for four months. But I had good results in these four months. Unfortunately I didn't
win but I was 15 times on the podium. But there should have been a nice victory, it didn't work out because I didn't
have enough racing kilometres in my legs.
Cyclingheroes: What are your main objectives this season?
Stefan van Dijk: My first goal is always to come out of the winter without sickness. In the
first races you already notice that you trained well and then you start to build up and you try to ride good in the spring.
I want to play a role in the semi - classics [Races like Dwars door Vlaanderen and Nokere Koerse, editor] . Actually
I want to try to win the races where I start [laughs, editor], of course I can't win them all but I will try to win them.
I doesn't really matter which race I will win, I will be happy if I can win a stage... Last year I tried to do that the whole
year butd it didn't work our for me: six times a second place.. so for me the most important thing is to win again.
Cyclingheroes: Do you think the team will receive a few wildcards for Pro-Tour races?
Stefan van Dijk:
Jef Braeckevelt (Sports Director Mitsubishi - Jartazi, editor] has very good
contacts with ASO and that could turn out to be important for us. I think its possible to get one or more wildcards for one
day races, maybe Paris - Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders
. Maybe also the Amstel Gold Race and Gent - Wevelgem. Personally I hope we will race the Eneco-Tour.
Cyclingheroes: Last year the team started with a continental license under the name Jartazi.
This year Mitsubishi joined forces with Jartazi and the team now has a Pro-Continental license. Will the team continue to
Stefan van Dijk: They will decide after this year how things will develop but we are sponsored
by Mitsubishi Belgium and of course we hope that Mitsubishi Europe will step in and then we can grow and get really big. They
are speaking about it but nobody knows what decision Mitsubishi will take after this season... You never know in cycling.
Wiesenhof also wanted to continue but after certain people made some remarks... Suddenly it was over and out.
Cyclingheroes: After all the incidents in Germany.. You rode for a German team and
in Germany there was one negative headline after the other... Was it difficult to race in such a climate?
Stefan van Dijk: Not for me personally. But I noticed that a lot of German riders had
a hard time, mentally it was difficult for them. You can do only one thing if you know that your team will stop operations.
You have to perfom well, ride really good to show yourself to other teams. I had the feeling that some of the German riders
hung their head in resignation and I am not used to see Germans do that. Most of them were young riders who had trouble to
deal with it. For some of them it was really dificult to find a new team. For me it was different. I race to win and if my
team will stop and I ride well, there will always be another team that will sign me. But of course its better if you
know that you can stay with a team.