Malaya van Ruitenbeek: "I could trust in my sprint and take the stage win."

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28.12.2007/ Last week Malaya van Ruitenbeek took the fifth stage of the Tour of Thailand. On January 5 the Dutch rider of the Regiostrom-Senges team (in 2008 under the new name Kuota-Senges) will start for a Dutch national team at the Vuelta Al Tachira (Venezuela). The 25 year old will publish a riders diary about the Vuelta Al Tachira at our website. An interview with Malaya van Ruitenbeek.

© Team Regiostrom-Senges
Malaya van Ruitenbeek at Mallorca (© Team Regiostrom-Senges)

Cyclingheroes: Ice speed skating used to be more important then cycling for you. When did that change and why?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: I used frantically speed skate until I went to university. At that time cycling just was a nice way to get through the summer season. When I started my study I didn't do much sports during the first two years, basically I studied. After that I started cycling seriously. With little training I couldn't keep up and I had a feeling that there was more in it. So I decided to look from year to year if I could make progression. With the help of my attendant Martin Smits I made tremendous progress in the last 5 years.

Cyclingheroes: You were born at the Philippines. When did you came to the Netherlands?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: We came to the Netherlands in 1988. My brother was just born and I was 5 years old. My father did 12 years voluntary work at the Philippines, but because of political unrest my parents decided to move to the Netherlands.

Cyclingheroes: In 2006 you won the time trial world championships for students, are you still studying?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: I am still registered at the TU Delft [Technical University in Delft, Netherlands, Van Ruitenbeek studies aviation and astronautics] and the plan is to stop my season at an early stage, at September 1, to start with my master degree. That will all be different if I can sign with a major team, which is my aim fo the coming 9 months.

Cyclingheroes: Where do we see Malaya van Ruitenbeek more likely: as a participant of the Tour de France or as an astronaut on the moon?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: Of course you can do good cycling only once in your life, while you can still study in a few years. In that sense I am targetting more at cycling at the moment but is that my great ambition in life? I don't know. The most important is that I am feeling well with what I am doing.

Cyclingheroes: Your brother Manman is riding with Van Vliet – EBH Advocaten. Are the two of you very different as a rider?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: No we are pretty similar. He is more a natural winner, he rode in his first race at the podium, while I was glad to be able to stay with the peloton. But we both benefit from our drive to race and our physical abilities.

Cyclingheroes: What was the most important reason to renew your contract with Regiostrom-Senges [The team will start in 2008 under the name Kuota-Senges]?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: I was very satisfied with the team during the past year. We have a very familiar atmosphere. On a continental level of course there is not always enough budget to take care of everything perfectly but the atmosphere and the race programm are for me as a rider much more important. During the past year I wasn't financially independent but I did not have a problem with that because I think you need the guts to invest to make progress. For the coming year I was offered a remarkably improved contract, after that it was easy to postpone the finishing of my studies for another year.

Cyclingheroes: You just came back from Thailand. How did it feel to take your first UCI victory?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: It was great! It was a very strange day, never before I had so much doubt to abandon a stage race [Tour of Thailand]as during that day. At the day before I attacked early in the race and that during the most difficult stage that I've ever done [ Stage 4 of the Tour of thailand: 4100 hight meters, 217 kilometers, 6.5 hours of racing with 30 degrees celsius]. I had to pay for that with cramps during the final 30 kilometers and I lost 15 minutes on the group with the overall favourites. At the day of my stage win I had trouble to came out of my bed and to have breakfast. I was about to abandon the race after 20 kilometers after I had already visited the race doctor. Fortunately I continued the race and during the day I started riding better. In the finale I jumped to the two race leaders and because the peloton was never more then 2 minutes behind us, we continued to work together very well until the end. I could trust in my sprint and take the stage win. That gives me a lot of confidence for the coming season.

Cyclingheroes: Is there a big difference between riding a stage race in Euope and Asia?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: Of course its warmer in Asia. Funny enough I can't handle that very well so I try to arrive as early as possible to train a couple of times in the heat. Racing isn't very organised so its pretty easy for a tactically strong European team to force strong results. Furthermore western riders are pretty scared for the exotic food in the hotels, but I enjoy that. I was impressed by the physical level of the riders from the East.

Cyclingheroes: Next month you will start at the Vuelta Al Tachira. Do you know the route already?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: Yes the Vuelta Al Tachira has a very good website full of information []. There are 13 stages in 14 days. The distances are varying from 90 to 180 kilometers and we start with 5 days of flat stages. After that it becomes very mountainous, so its a very challenging and multifarious route.

Cyclingheroes: You will start with a national Dutch team at the Vuelta Al tachira. What will be your role at that team during this Tour?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: My role will probebly be that of captain of the road. I am used to ride for a sprinter as well as for a rider for the overall and I hope to bring some calmness into this one-of team. In that way I can target easily to go for a stage win, which is my goal for venezuela just like it was in Thailand.

Cyclingheroes: Can you tell us more about your programm for 2008 and what will be your role at Kuota_Senges in the coming year?

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: I have the new programm on my computer for two weeks now and yesterday I made a first rough schedule for the coming year. I will focus a little bit less on stage races and will focus more again on one day races. Our Belgian classics programm has become very broad in the past years. We will do all German stage races with the exception of the Deutschland Tour and there we can get the maximum exposure for our sponsors. With climber Björn Glasner and Luke Roberts for the time trials we have a great trump for every stage race in our hands. Additionally we have a lot of young talents for the future in sprints, climbing and time trailing. With my distinct allround abilities I will ride a few races pure for the result but for the rest of the time I will ride for the team. After Venezuela we will go fot two weeks to Mallorca with the team. After that I will start my season at the Giro Del capo in South-Africa. After coming back six weeks of sping classics are waiting for me. After a time of rest I will do a couple of stage races to prepare for the Dutch National Championships. 

Cyclingheroes: Malaya we wish you all the best for the upcoming season!

Malaya van Ruitenbeek: Thanks!

Malaya van Ruitenbeek
Born: December 12, 1982
Place of birth: Bonifacio, Philippines
Residence: Delft (Netherlands)
Height: 1.83 mtr
Weight: 73,5 Kg
Turned Pro: 2007
Team: Regiostrom-Senges (renamed in Kuota-Senges for 2008)
Stage 5 Tour of Thailand

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