Motorpacing on a ‘cross course? Sure, why not?
The weekend is here and it’s the biggest race in cyclocross: The world championships. If ‘cross were included in the Olympics, we’d all have a bigger race to look forward to every four years. While talk of the Olympics is happening, so far it’s only talk. For now, we’ve got the rainbow stripes and it’s the highest honor any ‘cross racer can achieve.
A lot goes into a world championship. This year’s race is no different. It’s going off in Hoogerheide , Netherlands, and it’s going to be big. In the past this venue has been an amazing world cup made famous, named after, and designed by Adrie van der Poel. Adrie was an amazing Dutch cyclist, winning multiple tour stages, classics, world and national championships.
After a cup of coffee and some breakfast with Ryan Trebon and our mechanics Stu and Dusty, we packed up the bikes in the Cannondale truck and we hopped in the car for an hour and half journey to Hoogerheide, which is just north of Antwerp, Belgium. Once we made it there, we met up with the other U.S. team members for a ride from the hotel over to the course for the official training for the riders: juniors, women, U-23 and elite.
At the world championships the UCI ropes off a parallel course that runs alongside of the actual course so that the “race” grass isn’t ridden on, keeping it fresh for the races in an effort to preserve it from damage. No other race throughout the entire year does this.
Running through the course
There are a couple new features to this edition of the race course but for the most part it’s got everything you’d want from a ‘cross course. While it’s a pretty straightforward course, I’ll run you through it: The start/finish takes place on a really long brick road. This is followed by a really steep, fast decent, multiple sharp corners that require really fast accelerations back up to speed, and then a couple fast double-track sections through the forest.
You can do a ‘virtual ride’ through the course on the race’s Web site.
And finally, what ‘cross race would be complete without a flyover? Well this one’s got a huge flyover that actually hurts the legs, it’s so steep. I’d say the craziest thing about this course would be if it were to rain before Sunday. If the rains do decide to come, this course turns into a slop fest with mud up to your chest. But, if it’s dry or frozen it’s one of the fastest races over here, with riders only getting off the bike one time throughout the lap.
I rode to the course with the U.S. team for the training session and I got to catch up with a couple different riders during some chill laps. One of the guys I always run into warming up lately is Zdenek Stybar. Welp. “Styby” had his tunes pumpin’ in his ears and I decided to hop on his wheel. After riding with him for a bit I have a few insights. Let me just say that if it stays dry he has a good shot at winning on Sunday and I’m pretty sure he’s taking it seriously.
I picked the speed up a little to try and catch a look at a couple of his lines and rhythm throughout the course. Everything was going to plan. Then I saw this guy on a derny bike pedaling next to Stybar with the motor running. I was thinking “this is classic,” some fan got his derny bike out to ride/motor next to his favorite rider.
Yeahhh … I might have been wrong about that. Turns out, Stybar employed this guy to give him a little motor pacing practice on the road sections of the course. Now. I’ve seen a lot of things but never, ever have I seen this at a ‘cross practice. He brought the fire and I have to say that not only do I credit Stybar for a great idea, but I wish I had thought of it! I hung on for a couple laps, but I don’t think it was cool to mess with someone’s routine/workout so I backed off after a couple times through.
After the ride we packed up the equipment and headed back to Belgium for a couple more nights in my own bed and my final easy ride and opening up workout. I’ll be back in the Netherlands on Saturday to check the course out one more time, see if any lines have changed, and pick up all my USA clothing, numbers and final credentials.
Sunday’s go time! I’ll be sure to write about it on my Web site,www.jpows.com and next week here on VeloNews.com with the inside scoop. C-ya!