Interview - Magnus Cort Nielsen ready for new opportunities at Astana
Dec 22 2017 09:37 pm CET

Interview - Magnus Cort Nielsen ready for new opportunities at Astana
Interview - Magnus Cort Nielsen ready for new opportunities at Astana
Photo of Magnus Cort Nielsen © Mary Cárdenas /

Danish promise Magnus Cort Nielsen made the move from Orica to Astana Pro Team after three seasons at the Australian formation. CyclingPub spoke to him at Astana's training camp in Spain.

Astana's riders and staff got together in Altea, at the famous Spanish Costa Blanca, in order to prepare for the upcoming season. Cort Nielsen is one of the team's new additions and aims to get more opportunities in 2018, having proven his skills in the past with stage wins in races like the Vuelta a España.

The current year ended with a bit of bad luck as the 24-year-old crashed while training in the first days of December. When we meet him at the team's hotel, a bandage is all that remains visible of the injury.

How are you doing? How is the recovery going?

It's going well. It's progressing as it should.

You crashed in a training ride, but what happened exactly?

Yes, back in Girona, where I live. We were in a group ride and we all went down. I fell unlucky. The rest were okay. Well, more or less. You always get some scratches.

But it's not going to slow you down in your preparation?

No. I was set to start in February and I keep the same plan.

About 2017. How do you look back on the season?

I think it was an alright season. I would have liked to have won in the WorldTour again. I had two wins and a couple of top three's in the World Tour. Some close ones as well, for example London, second. I think I've proven that I'm up there throughout the whole season. I only won in February but I had results throughout the season. Of course I broke my collarbone in Yorkshire but after that I came back really fast as well. Already in Switzerland I got a chance in the last stage and was fourth. That was a good way to return quickly.

Is there something that really stood out? A highlight for 2017?

The wins are always special. The race in London I was also very happy about. Second in a WorldTour one-day race, that's a really good result.

Now Astana, a whole new chapter. What made you choose this team?

There were a couple of Danish guys already, my good friends. I get a really nice race programme, a lot of big races. An opportunity to go to the Tour and try to go for success. I will get some chances. The team is not built around me but I get a free role when possible. I will also support Jakob (Fuglsang) and I look forward to working with him.

Speaking of Jakob, was he in any way instrumental in your arrival here?

Not really. I didn't speak that much with him. I did speak to Michael Valgren and Jesper Hansen. I knew those two really well. We have been racing on the same team and of course the national Under-23 selection.

This will of course be your first year here after some years at Orica. How different is it to start a season at a new team?

Of course it is different. Especially here, to have everybody together. In Orica, in three years there were never this many people together. You got to know people slowly, in small groups. You have people all over the world so they never brought the whole team together. Here you really feel how big a WorldTour team actually is. It's difficult to learn all the names (laughs) but I'm trying. I'm really happy to be here and I think everybody's positive. It's a great team.

Then 2018. You already mentioned the Tour de France. Do you already know a bit more about your schedule?

I will start in Dubai and Oman in February. Then back to Europe where I will ride cobbled classics, Paris-Nice and the Tour de Suisse and hopefully the Tour. You have to perform well, otherwise you won't go to the Tour. I hope to make it there.

You do have some Grand Tour experience, with the Vuelta. You feel ready to ride the Tour now?

Yes. I did the Vuelta twice now, in similar roles as what I will get in the Tour. The first time I was a little bit more free. When the stages weren't too hard and we didn't have crosswind, I could do some sprints. This year I was completely focused on the GC so I didn't get an opportunity there. We'll see what my chances are when I get to the Tour. First I have to get there.

Was that a factor as well in switching teams, that you would have more of a free role here?

Yes, I think Orica has been moving towards GC. They are very focused on that. Here I will get more chances.

You once said in an interview that you don't consider yourself a 100 percent sprinter. Of course you do cobbled classics, which is not something the pure sprinters like to do. What kind of rider would you describe yourself as?

I am a sprinter but I like a hard race. For me it's hard to beat the big guys in the WorldTour without wind or challenges. So either someone needs to get dropped or it has to hurt in their legs. That's where I have my best chances.

So if you would compare yourself to anyone active or retired, who would you think of, as an example?

Peter Sagan, kind of. He is of course a level above but a kind of similar rider. He is a really strong sprinter and he prefers the race to be hard, competing against the fast guys.

And maybe a bit of Alexander Kristoff?

A bit of Kristoff, exactly. Matti Breschel, maybe.

The final question. What would you most like to achieve this season?

To be in the Tour is a big goal. To get there, it means that I've been going well. I think that shows that the first part of the season has been good.

By Jonathan Roorda




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