TFS: You come from a track background. How do you feel that has helped you to be a better road cyclist?
EB: I think track teaches you a lot, especially how to do [back-to-back] efforts repetitively. In a Points race, for example, you have no choice but to keep going even when you’re absolutely nailed. It’s also taught me how to time-trial effectively: how to go as hard as you can, for as long as you can, and not be scared to [blow up]. I think it also teaches you to be a little bit aggressive on the bike. If you want that spot, you’ve got to go for it, otherwise you’re straight off the back.
It teaches you not to be scared because you do fall off on the track, you get splinters, but you have to pick yourself back up because you’ve only got five laps [to get back in] and if you don’t get up quick enough, then you don’t start the race again.
TFS: What are your three biggest qualities as a cyclist?
EB: I would say I’m quite good at being focused, especially when I need to be, like before a race. I also like to have a laugh and speak to people and not just sit in the bus and be quiet because then I get too nervous, but when the time comes, and I need to warm up or head to the start, I think I’m quite good at switching between the two [mentalities] quickly.
In the Juniors, I was fairly good at bunch positioning, but it’s hard to know if that will carry into the Elites. Finally, I would say my power, or my long efforts are pretty good, like prolonged efforts on the front of the bunch or pulling back a breakaway.
TFS: Your parents were both exceptional cyclists. What was the best advice they gave you when you decided to pursue this sport as a career?
EB: I think one of the best things my dad has ever taught me is to race aggressively. When I was younger, I never really had a good sprint or enough power, and he would always say to me: ‘Just keep making those efforts, no matter how much they hurt, no matter how many times you get brought back. One day it will pay off.’
As a Junior, the strength and sprinting skills I never had before caught up with me, and I was able to win bunch sprints. And I guess that was the moment in Gent where it paid off. I would say that’s probably the best bit of advice he’s ever told me: To believe in yourself.