When looking back on a cycling season, it’s easy to focus on the consecutive winners and top places, and your mind immediately returns to the likes of Tom Pidcock on the Alpe d’Huez or Elisa Longo Borghini on the cobbles of Roubaix moment.
As a result, people tend to end up ignoring those who really had great years, who may have overachieved or been at their best, but just didn’t cross the threshold of what we consider truly elite.
For every Tadej Pogačar, there is a Simon Geschke.
The German driver, now in his second year of contract with Cofidis, is mostly known for his big beard, being vegan and fond of rock music, but he’s also in good shape for 2022.
He started slowly, becoming a devoted family to his star teammates such as Ion Izagirre and Guillaume Martin, backing the former to finish second in the Itzulia Basque Country before jumping at the chance to race the Tour de France in late April, finishing third general classification. His season almost culminated in the Tour de France, where he was the longest-wearing King of the Mountain jersey and the final challenger to eventual champion Jonas Vingegaard.
“It’s been a really good year for me, especially the season before the Tour,” said the 36-year-old modestly. “There are always ups and downs, but I’ve been really happy with how I’ve been from Pais Vasco to the Tour of Romandie, where I was supposed to be an assistant, but I could have a job there. At Romandie, I got myself a It turned out to be really good for me and the team.
“We’ve been chasing WorldTour points all year, which is good. In the Tour, I’m at the same level again, which is fantastic for me. I didn’t win anything, but the Tour I played was great. I was disappointed that I didn’t win the mountain category, but in the end I went home and I’m happy with that.”
People think that’s the life of a professional driver and have to be content to almost miss what could be the biggest event of a career. Still, the visibility of the polka dots was important to Geschke, as was the confidence he gained from performing.
“I’ve had my eye on the mountain jersey for a long time because honestly, it’s the most realistic goal for me to make a difference on tour,” he explained. “Of course, stage wins have the potential to come off breakouts, but that’s the next goal. Things like that or combat prizes.
“I wasn’t just in Breakthrough for TV exposure, I wanted to do something in the biggest race in the world. Anything you can win is good. Mountain jerseys would have been as good as stage wins. We wanted to go as long as possible I kept the jersey for as long as I wanted, but I didn’t expect to keep it for that long. It worked almost perfectly, but it wasn’t enough.”
Smaller teams risk criticism from fans if they aren’t aggressive enough, and what good are they if it’s not about keeping the race alive with little hope of success? Geschke pushed back on the criticism on the Tour, trying to win, put himself on track and challenge.
It doesn’t hurt that the ASO has taken steps to make Geschke available in order to spice up the KOM competition.
“It used to be double points for finishing the summit, but they changed that,” he explained. “They turned their attention again to normal climbers like me. I only missed one climb and that’s what decided it.
“Maybe more people will try it next year and I’m sure the Tour also wants the mountain jersey to be a higher value again. It’s really exciting, at least that’s what I’ve heard. In other years it seems like last week thing, but maybe I inspired some drivers to go for it from the start.”