Ellen van Loy in Loenhout. © Juan Plowy
by Christine Vardaros
As Belgian Ellen van Loy [Melbotech Prorace CT] sits in Louisville, Kentucky, preparing for the big event, she takes a moment to reflect on her season thus far. With four podiums and four top 10’s in World Cups, she’s tickled pink and ever so thankful. “That the season started off so well and has continued to go great … I would have never dared to dream of that. I noticed that I was making progress in all areas including physical, confidence, skill, equipment, … but to think now that I am racing every week between these toppers and achieving such results is too crazy for words,” exclaimed Van Loy. Adding, “I am not really most proud of a particular race, but rather of the World Cups in general. I have showed that I can blend right in with the top women on the circuit. Roubaix was where I qualified for Louisville with my 8th place. But with two ninths, a 12th and two 13s, it seems strange for me to say but I can now consider myself one of the better ones.”
It was already clear over the summer that Van Loy had taken that next step when she landed on the podium at both road and mountain bike races. This is not a small feat considering her racing was limited. “I didn’t ride a lot of road races over the summer but the ones I rode were good ones. I noticed that I had become stronger from those races. I was also able to do a three-day race with the Belgian National team which helped my training plans for cross. The level of this race was quite a bit higher than I was used to. I also rode a few mountain bike races.”
As she adds the final touches to her Worlds preparation, Van Loy makes sure to take the full experience in. “Yeah, this is my First time in USA. Everything I thought about it here seems to be true: friendly people, beautiful typical houses, towering buildings. I’m trying as much as I can during the trainings to look at everything and enjoy it all.” As for her performance on the big day, Van Loy says, “I am and always will be modest but realistic, so I think between 10th and 15th place should be realistic. But of course I am hoping on a good day and then who knows where I can finish.”
With an odd full-time job, Van Loy is thankful not only to have ridden so well but to have had the opportunity of even giving it a shot. Van Loy explains, “I work full time as an educator for people with mental disabilities aged 45 to 55. My hours are very irregular but the combination of work and racing goes well together thanks to my husband Tom who helps me find the time in my unstructured schedule to get the needed training in. Tom is a sports teacher with real knowledge of exercise therapy and is particularly interested and prepared to support me in my racing. I thank him very much for this and for all his free time he has put into it. Very sweet of him! [smiles]”
And vacation time for Loy? Not quite. “After the season, my husband Tom and I don’t plan to go directly on vacation because he is still in school so we travel on school holidays. But we were at least able to have a beautiful time in Rome [during the World Cup] and now in Louisville. In the summer we’d like to go to Czech Republic because we hear there is some beautiful mountain biking to be had there. Yeah, how a hobby can almost turn into an addiction. [laughs]”
This summer she plans to stick with the same routine since it worked so well for her last time around. But as for the specifics, she was not yet sure, saying that “I first need to focus on finishing this season because it is certainly one not to forget!” She’s got that right!