One photo from the Olympic village in London attracted world-wide attention… Germany’s road sprinting sensation, André Greipel, and one of his compatriots, Robert Forstermann, display the size of their legs. Although the triple stage winner from the 2012 Tour is nicknamed ‘The Giant’ – or, to some, ‘The Gorilla’ – he looks tiny compared to the sprinter from the track. RIDE caught up with Forstemann at the world championships in Melbourne and asked him, amongst other things, about the size of his legs…
Robert Forstemann Interview
RIDE: My understanding is that your role in the German team is to be the starter for the team sprint. That’s your position: is that right?
Robert Forstemann: “Oh, it’s difficult. We have four really good riders in Germany who can do the team sprint and so it’s a hard decision when it comes to the Olympic selection. We had some problems at the world championships and I’m now hopeful that I can go to the Olympics and do the team sprint.
“My usual role is second position [in the team sprint].
“I’m also a starter. I can start fast and I think I am the second fastest starter in the world but the fastest [René Enders] is also in our team. He’s done a 17.09, and my fastest is a 17.20.”
We also see you sprinting – and you did some very long sprints at the world championships…
Robert Forstemann: “Yes. I’ve had some good fitness and had very good form; I was a little bit surprised in the last heat of the final [for fifth to eighth place at the world championships]. I did a very long sprint over one-and-a-half laps and it was still a fast final 200 metres. That was a confirmation that I had very good form and I’m a little bit angry that I missed the semi-final at the worlds.”
Can you tell me about your thighs? I’m curious because your legs are enormous…
Robert Forstemann: “Yes, that’s true but I have photos of me when I was four-years-old at the beach and I also had big legs then. It’s a genetic thing. I’m like my parents.
“Of course, I do more squats than others – well, more weights… not more actual squats. But it’s absolutely natural.”
What weight do you push?
Robert Forstemann: “When I’m doing squats, it’s usually with around 260 kilograms. And for leg press, I’ll do 640 kilograms. But I know that [Chris] Hoy can also push a lot – 630 or something like that.”
Is there a lot of time in the gym during your training?
Robert Forstemann: “No. Maximum: two times a week but there’s a lot of training with the bicycle on the track as well as outside on the road.
“It’s a combination of gym and cycling that gives me these big legs.”
Do you have to adjust your bicycle… ah, to allow you to fit on it properly?
Robert Forstemann: “No. I just have a standard track bike and road bike.”
When you’re sprinting, what gear do you sprint with?
Robert Forstemann: “It’s difficult for me to say because the other riders don’t really want to talk about this. And so we prefer to keep this information out of the public space. But it is big gears and every year it’s bigger and bigger…”
When you get relegated like what happened at the world championships [when the German team was disqualified for changing outside the allotted area]… is that common? I don’t remember seeing that regulation enforced at a championship before…
Robert Forstemann: “I don’t know how to say it… I think that there was no reason for the relegation because I saw that they gave other relegations during the world championships but I don’t know why they did it. For me, it’s not sport.
“The real competition [in the team sprint] is the time at the end of the three laps – and a good, clean change. But I think that what we did was within the parameters of what’s been considered normal… so, no – I didn’t understand our relegation.”
– By Rob Arnold
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