Simon Geschke is a long-standing member of Team Sunweb. He is currently supporting Wilco Kelderman in the Vuelta a España and, on the first rest day of this Grand Tour, Geschke spoke with The Prologue about his 10th year in professional cycling.
How is your Vuelta going?
It’s OK. I’m doing alright. This year there was only a short time between the Tour de France and the Vuelta, and I rode the Clásica San Sebastián in between, so I’m a bit tired. Up until now I’ve been doing well helping Wilco [Kelderman] and I’m happy with how things are going, but I was better during the Tour and I hope can still reach that level again.
Looking back, how did breaking your collarbone in the Tirreno-Adriatico this year affect your race season?
Luckily it didn’t affect my season too much. But it certainly interrupted my spring. I was aiming to be really good in the Ardennes classics, and I wasn’t because the Amstel Gold was my first race [after recovering]…In those races you really need to have trained the high intensity that you only get through racing, which I did not have that built up at that time. In fact, I wasn’t really in good shape until the Tour de France.
What is your advice for riders who have suffered injuries?
Well, it very much depends on the type of injury, but in general take your time is the best advice, I think. Especially with inflammations, for example—of the knee in particular. It can be very tempting to start training too early. I’m guilty of this, as I really don’t like riding on the rollers, so I want to get out on the bike as soon as possible.
Do you now have a status as one of the more established riders in the peloton?
I guess so. I’ve been around for quite a while now and many riders know me; I’ve raced with a lot of these guys for ten years already. This is my tenth pro season and I’ve ridden a couple of good races, so yeah, they know me.
Your father, Jürgen Geschke, was an accomplished Olympic track cyclist.What influence has he had on your cycling career?
My father obviously introduced me to cycling. You could say that he actually did a different sport, as he was a track cyclist. When I was young he was already long retired, and was more into mountain biking and endurance [cycling] off the road. But he had a scouting eye and saw that I was a talented cyclist, both on the road and during mountain biking races. He put me on a road bike, which I enjoyed, and that was also when I got hooked on road racing. At that time, cycling was pretty big in Germany with Jan Ulrich, and after I watched my first Tour de France I decided I too wanted to do that one day.
You don’t eat meat, how does that affect your nutrition as a racer?
Actually, since 2016 I have tried as much as possible to be vegan. But it’s not always possible to find alternatives to dairy products. You need to be really organised. When we are on the road, especially at airports and petrol stations, you cannot always find vegan products. Not all of them have good alternatives, but it’s getting better. We [Team Sunweb] have a great chef with us who makes sure I get the right nourishment, and that makes it a bit easier for me.
Does this affect your racing and recovery?
No, not at all! This year I rode my best-ever Tour de France, and I was vegan the whole time. We are monitored very closely by the team, and they make sure everything is OK. There are, of course, some people who think that if you leave the animals alone you can only eat salad, but it’s really not like that [Geschke laughs]. So being a sportsperson at a high level and being a vegan is really very possible.
Is there still an area within cycling which you would like to improve?
I always like to keep improving—nobody is perfect—but I sometimes would like to be more crazy and aggressive in the bunch. Especially when it comes to positioning—I sometimes find myself in the wrong position, so I work on that quite a lot. And it’s not something you can train for. You have to do it live, during the race! [laughs again]
You have been a member of the same team, with different sponsors, for the past decade. How does it feel to be moving teams for the first time ever?
It feels a bit strange, for sure. But I am very excited to try something new. This is now my 10th season with this team, and I’ve been working for the same company for ten years, if you see what I mean. I think it’s a good time in my career to change team; this year is very good timing and I have a very good feeling about the move. It feels like an adventure and I hope it gives my career a little boost. I’m very happy with my choice.
Looking back over your 10 years with the team [which is now Team Sunweb] what are the favourite memories?
Wow, there are so many. Almost every year I have experienced great moments, but a big one was last year winning the Giro d’Italia with Tom Dumoulin. My first Tour de France with this team as a neo-professional in 2009 was also pretty crazy. Winning four stages in the Tour with Marcel Kittel I will also never forget, and the first time being in a team with the winning yellow jersey, and so on. There have been some great moments!