Hanka Kupfernagel is a four-time world champion and always a favorite at any big race. She and her partner Mike Kluge chatted with Christine Vardaros about the upcoming world championship race and women’s prize money. Plus a profile on the world champ’s bike.
Your race strategy for Worlds? Take the lead early like usual?
It’s a big secret of course!
Your strongest competition?
I think a lot of riders will watch me. I also think the Dutch girls like Daphny [Van den Brand] and Marianne [Vos] have the best chance and will be very motivated. Daphny had a good race in Milan and of course Katie Compton. When the conditions are dry I think also the Czech rider Pavlikova will be strong. Also the French girls like Salvetat and Christel Ferrier Bruneau.
Your pick for the podium?
I think I cannot say. A few years ago I could have guessed three names but at the moment the women are getting stronger so we now have eight riders who can take the podium.
Special equipment for the big race?
Always before an important event we have new wheels and I have 3 mechanics to handle the material.
A no-show at the press conference after Roubaix?
There was no one who asked me. After the ceremony the guys led me directly to the [doping] control. I heard it afterwards that there was a press conference. I didn’t know it.
How special was your win at the first-ever Women’s World Championships?
It was really great. It was in 2000 – almost ten years ago – [Sint-Michielsgestel, Holland ] I wish that we started having World Championships two years before that as I was very excited for cyclocross and was looking forward to worlds. I think it was one of the first world championships of the new millennium and I was very proud. And 2001[World Champs in Tabor] was the bigger win because I did it on my own and I had a lot of personal changes, so it was a very big success for myself. I will never forget this day too.
And your win last year?
This was also a great thing because I didn’t expect it. The course in Treviso was not my favorite but it worked out and I had good condition. You never know in cyclocross how it will go.
My first world champion title I got was in America. It was the junior world title [road racing] in 1991. I became first time World Champion in Colorado Springs.
So I’d like to say hello [to my American fans]. I wish they would have some more [major] races in America because I heard about a lot of the cyclocross races. Hopefully in the future I can come over and do some races there.
Hanka’s Partner, Mike Kluge:
Your take on the World Cup prize money for women
I think that it’s very good that women finally get overall money in the world cups. And it should continue like this. This will give a lot of women the opportunity and the motivation for getting more serious into the cyclocross sport. It has taken quite a long time since we have already been talking about this for a few years. And finally after three years it worked out for overall money . And for the next season the prize money for the [individual] world cup events should also rise a little bit because 600€ for the winner is very little and then [at some events like] last weekend in Milan they take off right away 160€ tax. It is terrible. I don’t have to tell you that the women at this point are also traveling with camper and mechanic and have travel expenses. For all the rest they are paying it from their own money.
Is it true if women don’t get 50% of mens’ overall World Cup Series prize money, Hanka stop doing World Cups?
No, that was not what she was saying . She was only saying if we don’t have a solution – if there is no overall money for the world cup [overall] she don’t want to race at the world cups. But they changed it and it was a good move. My position from the beginning was that the women should get 50% of the money that the men get. For the next three years we will see how it develops. I also know that the men’s race is the good [advertising/ticket] seller. At this time they don’t think that the women should deserve the same money as them but this can change in four to five years. At the moment I think 50% would be fair and be the right way to support the women properly because it can attract more and more serious women. But they have to add some money there.
If it takes three years for that to happen, will Hanka continue to attend the World Cups?
Yes. Before I knew Hanka – five years now – to that point I never have been really involved in female sports, but when I found out how much – or how little – money the women get I was surprised. This is not for fun anymore. They are doing it professionally. And there has to be reasonable pay.
Photos and Bike Profile:free digital issue of Cyclocross Magazine here.