So, let’s focus on the positives. Firstly the approach to the race was good. Worlds are a big deal and when it’s at a venue like Koksijde, it’s really important. It’s in the top 2 venues of my hit list. Koppenburg is the other one, so this is kind of the one that remains un-ticked on my bucket list. The British team was dismantled with food poisoning, but thankfully I missed that, although when you are sitting in your room, hearing tales of other peoples sickness, you do wonder if the butterflies in your stomach are normal or an indication of a long night ahead in the toilet. Anyway, the positive was I didn’t get sick and I feel so sorry for all of those that did. They all put some much effort in to be there and didn’t deserve for that to happen.
The other positive was my start. I led the World Champs and had my start back to where it was earlier in the season. That’s escaped me in recent weeks following the illness I’ve been fighting. But I’ve been getting stronger every week and I think there’s no reason why I can get a 12th win of the season before it finishes in a few weeks. But that sickness left me not riding my bike too much over Christmas and the New Year, and it’s very clear that rest brought on my best form very early.
Two weeks ago, my legs were at their peak due to being super fresh from all the rest, unfortunately, my lungs weren’t so it put me only in 5th in the World Cup (Again). My season was geared around 2 things. A consistent World Cup season, and a peak for Worlds. So this race is where my peak should have been. My lungs were good, but my legs were past their best. So I have to ask myself if I have really had a peak? And I have to answer no. I guess that’s the risk of putting you seasons focus onto one day. Sven Nys has proved that over the years, and I can understand why he has said he might not go to any more World Champs. It’s such a lot of pressure to put yourself under. You have to believe in yourself when your form isn’t that good during the year, and trust that nothing will get in the way of the ideal approach to your big day. So although I see many world championships ahead for me, perhaps the Worlds focus is done.
So I led the race, but I wasn’t on a good day. It was average to say the least. I don’t need to make excuses for my performance. A lot of people would like to have a bad day and finish 13th at worlds, but I do expect better results of myself. The other factor (which didn’t explain me not being in the top 5 so isn’t an excuse) was a little dive I took during the race. It was a pretty big crash, it left me very winded, and today I’m pretty sore. I’m glad it entertained, and it’s just my luck there were cameramen right there at the time. Anyway, no long term harm done and I’m simply glad I was pushing the limit and trying to ride myself back into the race.
Now is about planning for next season, finishing the last few races as well as I can and getting ready for the training onslaught that will hit me when the post season break has finished. I can’t wait if I’m honest. And finally to answer the plonker that asked the questions at the end of the race to Marrianne Vos, “is she killing the sport?” No, she’s setting standards, just like Bart Wellens and Sven Nys and all the other pro-guys who have each dominated a cyclo-cross season, before the following year another takes the mantle. Although with the standard so high it won’t be easy, I will be doing everything in my power to raise my level to kick some serious arse next season.