team sky

Interview with Kjell Carlström, IAM Cycling Team


A week ago I chatted with Kjell Carlström and we decided to meet in Turku. I’ve been fortunate to get to know this former Team Sky professional cyclist currently working as Directeur Sportif (DS) for the Swiss IAM Cycling Team. Kjell has also been motivating and coaching me in my training and because of that I have been able to develop as a cyclist, both mentally and physically. So as you all know, it is always great to meet such people, this time was no exception. Also, talking with people who share the same interest, hours easily feels like minutes. I of course was eager to hear everything about the switch from a professional cyclist to a directeur sportif and all the latest about the team.

Q: What were the highs and lows from the first year, season 2013:

A:  Well there was a lot happening during 2013, but definitely the big disappointments of the year were the fact that IAM Cycling was left out from both Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. But thinking about those now a year later, they really wouldn’t have fit in our program for the year, and maybe it was better the way it turned out. Of course also bad luck for some of our riders such as Löfkvist was unfortunate.

Looking at the good things, there are many of them. We got a really good start in Qatar with Martin Elmiger battling for stage win on stage 1, finishing second on that stage. Of course Martin had a superb year and we were really pleased with the progress he made, and especially he was a really solid rider all year. Of course Bayern Rundfahrt was a good race for us with Stefan Denifl winning the mountains jersey, Heinrich Haussler winning stage 5 and the whole team performing really well and having both Martin Elmiger (9) and Marcel Wyss (7) at the GC top 10 and winning the team classification. We had a good year, but this year, we want to win even more.

Q: So what about your own ambitions or goals for the coming year?

A: I always wanted to win a grand tour. Before as a cyclist, and now as a DS. And even if we did have a good first year, I want to strive to be even better and do things better and more efficient as ever before. There is a lot to do, and that’s why I like this job. You can never be completely ready or done with what you do. It’s about the whole process. We’ve implemented the Fustra training method, and we’ve been really happy with that. Many riders have added this method to their routine, and we do see results as well. And sure, we do have some new things coming up…

At this point he gave me that laugh, you know when you have a secret you know will make a difference and sure, will be revealed at some point because it will end up in good results.

Let’s see what that is, it will be big, he continued laughing.

I realized it would be meaningless to even try to know what that is. So I didn’t ask more, just laughed along. We’ll see…

Q: What are the differences of being a pro cyclist and working together with pro cyclists?

A: It’s a totally different point of view that you have. As a DS you really need to be able to think in wider paths, you need to be able to think about the cyclists, things as a whole. When you plan or execute, you need to be able to see the whole picture from all angles. What seems logical for a cyclist might not be logical in the big picture, and sometimes it is hard to communicate that. At IAM Cycling, we try to talk and listen to our guys as much as possible, yea we do talk a lot.

Q: Goals and important dates for this season, which cyclist do you expect to step up and how is the team built up?

A: We have some important races we want to target with certain riders. The whole season expectations will be a mix of individual races and grand tour ambitions. The main goal is to be on the Tour this year, to win at least one stage, have the yellow jersey or have at least one rider in the top ten GC. We target to have at least one of these happening on the Tour, of course we are glad to nail them all! We have several riders who are able to target these goals. It’s are a huge advantage for us since we have a strong team with many good riders this year.

Of course we also want to win a classic in the spring, and we all know the biggest one is Paris-Roubaix. We have a really good mixture of riders for the first half of the classics and this gives us possibilities for building a great strategy in order to win. We have for instance Chavanel and Haussler, both really experienced and strong riders. Reichebach and Pelucchi have both good sprinting capabilities; we expect them to show up as well. Frank and Wyss both are able to step up this season too; we really have a wide range of cyclists who can, on a good day, win any race. Of course Löfkvist have all the possibilities to ride really well. He was really unlucky last year, we just need to change that and he can really have a successful year, he has made some great improvements lately. And Elmiger, huge year for him. He proved he can perform and this year he has some great targets where he really can win, and we really do believe this can be his big year. As a whole I see many of our riders to step up this year and reach a solid performance on high level.

It is also important that we don’t classify our young riders at a too early stage. Everyone needs to get opportunities to show what they can do and what they are best at doing. Too many become domestiques because they are classified as domestiques at an early stage. We don’t want to do that.

Q: Any comments on the Tour de France 2013 and what do you expect from the Tour de France 2014?

A: Well, the 2013, I expected Team Sky to perform and Froome to win, I had no doubt about it. For me it didn’t kill the interest in the tour, but maybe it didn’t offer the greatest excitement. It seemed that many teams had given up already before the race started. And the Alp d´Huez stage showed us all that even the Team Sky riders can be beaten, they’re humans as well.

For the 2014 edition of the Tour, Froome is of course the favorite. But it will be more interesting, because I don’t think Team Sky will be as dominant this year. Will be interesting to see how the Schlecks, Contador, Nibali and Rodriguez can do. There are many strong riders and teams such as Garmin and BMC. And maybe someone else as well…

Again a laugh from Carlström, I think he just mentioned IAM here.

The media pressure on Team Sky is huge, and it might affect how they ride and put a really hard pressure on all the riders there.

Q: What do you think about your former team and roommate Chris Froome?

A: He is a great guy, really down to earth and I wish him all the best of luck of course. During the time I spent with him, I really don’t have one bad word to say about him. Well in the beginning, before becoming a big name and grand tour winner, he really struggled with keeping his head with him when cycling. It was often just full speed and all out efforts instead of thinking of race tactics. But once he got that part in shape, well the rest is history as we know.

Q: So what is your relation to cycling today, do you still ride your bike and do you sometimes think it would be great to be racing?

A: I do ride, but not much these days, maybe less than 1000 km a year. Yet another laugh by Kjell. Well it would be great to race to win, but when I think about the amount of training it would mean, no I don’t want to get back there anymore.

It could be great to be able to go back 15 years, and try to do things differently. Not of course that I regret the things I’ve done, but I think it could have been of great importance to be able to believe in myself even more. That could have changed many things for me as a professional cyclist.

Suddenly the lights blinked. I realized the restaurant was closing and it was already 10 pm. I also realized I’d forgotten about my food and that there was still plenty of food left on the plate. Hours really can be minutes.

I will try to follow more closely on the IAM Cycling Team progress this year, and every time I have the possibility I try to catch up with Kjell to hear the insiders from races if possible. So stay tuned!



Team IAM Cycling website

Team IAM Cycling facebook page

Team IAM Cycling Twitter



Royal Cycling

Tomorrow is the third race of the year for me, Royal Cycling (Royal Pyöräily) in Lahti, Finland. It will be a 132 km long route with around 300 riders starting. Youll find the route here. The route is somewhat hilly, and really looking forward for the hills at the end. A fast 2,8 km long uphill section just 10 km before finish. Whatever group I'll ride in, that's a place to make a breakaway in. So hopefully I'll have fresh legs tomorrow.

Elevation graphics

Elevation graphics

As usual, you're able to track my ride on Endomondo. The live tracking link should appear on my Endomondo page here or alternative you can actually follow it straight from my site here on The Invisible Hill under main menu, Races/Live tracking here.

We will start at 6 am, so once again a really early wakeup. Hopefully I'm able to get some proper sleep. 

Today was once again a great day of road cycling. A proper breakfast, coffee, and out for a short ride with a couple of short sprint-intervals just to get the legs going.

Pre-ride espresso

Pre-ride espresso

And what could be better after that, than watching a great mountain stage of Tour de France and have some proper food and coffee. Superb effort by Team Sky and Chris Froome, not to mention Richie Porte. Huge. I just hope Contador, Valverde or someone else could make it a good fight for Team Sky. If the domination is like today, it might be a boring last 2 weeks of the tour.  

Rice, chicken and green beans, my fuel-up-for-a-race-nutrition, always

Rice, chicken and green beans, my fuel-up-for-a-race-nutrition, always

So I'll keep you updated tomorrow on the facebook page with pictures from along the day. The weather should be great, hopefully my legs are great too.

No summer without wild strawberries, a must-stop when you see these on a easy ride. 

No summer without wild strawberries, a must-stop when you see these on a easy ride. 

Until next time, enjoy the summer, ride your bikes!

Weekend ahead, wrapping up January

The first month of the year is behind. It was a good training period and I had some good results as well. Without yesterday's minor back injury at the gym, the month has improved my aerobic fitness as well as strength and power. It's the result of both slight reduction in weight as well as increased power output.

A snapshot from my W/Kg progress (without revealing any numbers ;) )

A snapshot from my W/Kg progress (without revealing any numbers ;) )

The next real progress test will be in just a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to that. A bit concerned about yesterday's minor injury, but hopefully it's just a minor strain. Will try a ride today to check how it responds to training.

Mornings with the morning paper, coffee, NHL and news

Mornings with the morning paper, coffee, NHL and news

The awesome thing about stepping into February is that it is probably the single last month of pure indoor training! However, contrary to last year I'll probable be training indoors until April/May to sustain and increase the power abilities.

In the cycling world we've seen the Pro Tour kick off. Tour Down Under was won by the 23 year old Dutch Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco Pro Cycling Team). We also saw Andre Greipel take 3 stages with huge sprint efforts, Team Sky working hard for Geraint Thomas and a huge effort by Finnish FDJ rider Jussi Veikkanen hitting the top 10 with 10th place! The next big race will be the Tour of Qatar that'll kick off on Sunday. It's the first big race for the new Swiss Team IAM Cycling, and the first test for Kjell Carlström as a directeur sportif! 

Keeps you going

Keeps you going

I also found a great site for all you interested in the Pro Tour Cycling scene! The site is and in there you'll find everything from stats, riders, routes and races. This is the database we've been waiting for, check it out!

Click to open PCS website

Click to open PCS website

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Keep on riding ;) (source:  Ville-noire )

Keep on riding ;) (source: Ville-noire)

Wrapping up the spring

Next week will welcome the first of the summer months so it's time to look back at the spring. In just over a month from the first outdoor cycling, the first 1000km are achieved. This means the goal of 7000km this year can still be achieved. Today ended also the first of the grand tours, Giro d'italia. One can ask if there's anyone who can challenge Alberto Contador these days. The next one, Tour de France, will gather all the best and we'll see if Andy Schleck is able to challenge Alberto.

Some pictures and video from the latter part of spring:

Turku, european capital of culutre 2011 - Cycling event

Harvaluoto 10.5.2011

Harvaluoto 10.5.2011

Harvaluoto 10.5.2011

8 bar pressure, check


I also had some time to fly above TurkuTeam ride 21.5.2011

Team ride 21.5.2011

Both finns finished the Giro d'Italia this year, which is a hard achievement. They were not well positioned in the general classification, but people tend to forget the amount of work they do for the teams that we cannot see. (

Alberto Contador, winner of Giro d'Italia 2011


Over and out!

Cyclists and skiers

I was glad to see that the finnish newspapers also write something about our great cyclists, Kjell Carlström and Jussi Veikkanen. I found this article in today's Helsingin Sanomat (27.2.2011).


Next Sunday will also be the time for the annual skiing event, Vasaloppet. This 90km cross country ski race will be broadcasted live, also on-line at As highlights from the past years is the great effort made by the swedish skier, Staffan Larsson who due to knee problems had to push himself along with his ski sticks all the way! He finished as 5th only 4 minutes behind the winner and led the race until the 73th km. Check the video below!