The Cyclo-cross World ChampionshipsCorrespondence Friends Events Stories
I have mixed feelings after the Worlds. To sum it up, it just ended badly. There were some highlights in there. My manager Pieter giving me an Orval while the paramedic cleaned up my leg was one. Dinner with the boys after was good fun too. But the second half of my race went badly and the fact that I now have trouble walking has most certainly tainted my mood. The time, energy and preparation that you put into a race like this certainly increases the expectations, but of course you need to remember that everyone else in the race will be giving it 110% too.[caption id="attachment_14192" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="It all begins… Photo - Tom Prenen"][/caption] My start was good. I took at least 2 places every turn for the first half a dozen turns, I missed three crashes including a beauty in the sprint on the asphalt and I felt like I was placed well for what seems to be 'my' style of racing. Just keep plugging away at them, gaining lap by lap. The cracks started to show when I slid out on a corner that I knew shouldn't have been a problem (Ok Van Aert did a superman on the same corner, but I wasn't racing for the win) Then a few hundred meters later about 1/4 of my rear tyre rolled off. Luckily I had the foresight to just pop it back on and keep riding. But this put my speed in the corners down and meant I had to change bikes. This is where we encounter the biggest flaw in all my preparation. I only have one set of mud tyres. Last season started with me spending €1000 on tyres and I not only chose to continue this season on those same tyres, I even sold off some of the excess ones to try and raise funds. The second bike had, what we in the business call 'Grifos', an allround tyre that was not up to riding in the conditions in Tabor. So as I came into the pits I communicated my problem (read: screamed 'THE TYRE FELL OFF!!') knowing that they could do nothing about it and continued off now equipped with my 'drifting bike'. It was such a joke trying to ride it that I came back to the pits half a lap later to get the first bike again, it was still the more favorable of the two. I had lost those that I was chasing and I didn't think there was anyone left behind me (I found out there was) so motivation was a little hard to come by. I don't know what it was but I had not felt like I could really open up during the race, I felt like the ceiling had been lowered. I had been eating garlic pretty much nonstop since we left Denmark as I felt like I was coming down with something that never really manifested itself, but maybe it was still there anyway. [caption id="attachment_14193" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Those first few crucial turns. Photo - Patrick Lagarde"][/caption] By the time we got to the fall, that everyone that is even remotely interested in cyclocross has now seen, I wasn't in the mood for more problems. As you could see in the footage it came out of nowhere. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind falling and there were a couple of spills earlier that send me sliding on my back like a turtle that even got me laughing. But this one was horrible, plus it ripped a big hole in my knee and fucked up my gears. Everything that happened after that was just a movement towards the 80% zone and getting pulled from the race. [caption id="attachment_14191" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="While things were still working. Photo - Leslie Mathys"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_14213" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="It never gets easier. Photo - Tom Prenen"][/caption] One thing I would like to add was how much I loved the crowd support. There were lots of people who knew who I was and cheered my name and even more that didn't and cheered anyway. I was a bit skeptical about the Czech crowd after watching the juniors, women's and U23 races, but they certainly gave it everything in the mens race. All in all we had a great weekend in the Czech Republic and I look forward to returning, but it has taken me at least a few days to 'get over it'. Now that I am enjoying 25 degrees in Melbourne I am sure that will help speed my recovery even more.