interview by Christopher Langer, CROSSMASTERS cyclocross team
Christian Heule is a multiple-time Swiss cyclocross champion, was a ’cross and road pro, and is currently a manager at SwissStop, one of the world’s leading brake pad producers. Heule reflects on his career, the current pro scene, the differences between cyclocross in the USA and Europe, and—such the surprise!—disc brakes for cyclocross.
Heule was interviewed by Christopher Langer from the CROSSMASTERS cyclocross team; it was translated from German by VEHIKEL-TRANSLATIONS.DE, a translation company that specializes in cycling.
CROSSMASTERS: You were a pro until 2011. Do you watch races every weekend?
CHRISTIAN HEULE: I had my last race in February 2012. That’s almost two years ago. Last year, I had a full adrenalin rush at every race I saw, whether on-site or on TV. Now I’m more distanced, and the more time goes by, the fewer races I watch live. But I still try to keep up-to-date with the results.
CM: Do you race sometimes for the fun of it?
CH: No. But I did race the Wheeler & Dealers race at Interbike and afterwards the 60 miles of 3 Peaks USA. Other than that, no races.
CM: Taramarcaz is riding quite well this year, but tends to fall back towards the end of races. Have you been watching him? Are their other racers, internationally or from Switzerland, who have impressed you or are showing potential?
CH: Julien is certainly the number one in Switzerland now. My two sparring partners, Simon Zahner and Marcel Wildhaber, are being a bit underestimated right now. Van Kessel has surprised me internationally. And you could have or had to expect that Walsleben would break through to the top at some point.
I also watch my old competitors closely. And I see things again and again that surprise me—or don’t surprise me at all.
CM: And what was the last thing that really surprised you?
CH: In my opinion, Klaas Vantornout is riding far better than I had expected. I don’t mean physically, though. What surprises me is how often he manages to get through a race without making mistakes. That’s something that was always really important to me. Often you are faster, despite all the stress of competition, if you can manage not to make mistakes, rather than risking too much and then lying in the dirt at least once every race.