Im European Champion; I have to say I enjoy saying that. Its been a long wait to win a major championship. Learning something new every ride, every race, every season, to try to get to this point has all been worth it. Right, first things first, thanks to everyone that made it possible; family, Kona, Coaches, friends and fans. I hope you enjoyed the race as much as me. Always in control, never in doubt…..hahaha. I took it the wire just to make the race look better, honest.
So, the race itself was good. The top competitors from Europe were there, plus a full GB quota of riders. That included the usual suspects (Nikki and Gabby) plus 3 others; My heroin of the sport Louise Robinson along with two riders who are the hope the future. The big difference with this race was it was in my home country. Whod have thought wed have a major championship in the UK, its been 20 years since the last one. A huge amount of thanks, tip of the helmet, and pat on the back has to go to Steve Grimwood, Carl Thompson and all of their helpers for putting this on and having the vision that cyclo-cross is worth it. Their work shouldnt be underestimated in this.
On a very similar course to last seasons Nationals, the race was always going to fast, but wearing. There arent too many actual corners. Drags and head winds make the race a little more wearing that it appears. I also think many riders had sore legs after the Koppenberg Cross on Thursday. Although I rode there, I have to admit my legs were far better that they were for the Koppenberg cross itself. We had a good travel schedule planned, a great place to stay that was very relaxing and having won on the course and being in good form, stress levels were low.
Sanne van Paassen was the favourite. She was easy to pick out in her bullet style skid lid, but not so easy to drop. I tried a lot of times, and Nikki also tried hard on the front, but we just couldnt shift her. The 3 of us pulled away from the others and with 2 laps to go it was just me and Sanne. I had no way of shifting her from my wheel, or me from hers, so it was all down to the sprint. I kind of had an idea of what she was going to do; fight for the last corner. But as with the rest of the course, the drag to the finish shouldnt be underestimated. Its hard, and longer than it looks, so I felt confident I could win from 2nd wheel.
So thats about it, a big dip for the line, a nice new jersey, and the perfect end to the start of my season. Im off the USA right away to preview the world championships course in Louisville. Im having a few days at the course and get to race there twice. It should allow me to tweak my training to ensure its tailored for that event. Ill be spending some time with my Kona team and meeting my team mate, Spencer Paxton who Ive not met before, so should be a fun time.
Thanks again to everyone involved in making this happen.