The two weeks between diaries really do fly by. Since last time, I’ve raced four races in four different countries, won two of them and finally made it home. It’s often said that if you want to really reach the top in the ’cross you have to commit to living in Belgium, or certainly Benelux (Basically I have to adapt this to include Mathieu van der Poel, who is currently setting a new standard for ’cross, as is Maud Kaptheijns).
This last trip for me, the first major race block of the season, has been nine solid weeks away from home. But the benefit is I get to spend lots of time in Belg, my second or third home (Not quite sure where it sits really).
Our Euro adventure finished with Tabor in the Czech Republic and although it was really for the European Championships, it’s always a great excuse to explore a little in this amazing country. So many people seem to worry about going to Czech or certainly don’t list it high on their to-do list, but it’s a great place, and they really know how to put on a top-class cyclocross event.
Our farm stay was pretty cool. Our host even made a little pub with free beer for guests, not much use for me, but nice for Stef. We had a friendly mouse in the house who evaded capture for two days. I think if we’d been there for another day we would have either adopted it or named it.
For me, Euro’s were a bit wishy-washy. I feel I performed to my maximum on the day, but eighth isn’t something to really to shout about. I’m really happy for Sanne Cant, a true champ, and it gives her a Grand Slam of championships right now. Pretty cool.
Top Rider: Topper
To the Koppenberg!
I have to speak about Koppenberg really. I got a cobble trophy and loved everything about the race.
The battle with Katie Compton was really enjoyable, especially once it had finished. She’s a true superstar of the sport, unrivaled in pro wins, and someone who is crazy hard to beat one on one. It makes a win against her a little more special, although any win on the Koppenberg makes me smile a lot.
I believe I’ve managed about 70 pro wins. Katie has about double that, although I’m one year younger, so if I can finish this season strongly, I guess I can put some pressure on her numbers (not). Although now I have a medal/cobble display dilemma, meaning I have to win an Olympic medal to balance everything out.
A few years ago it was Koppenberg who stepped up to talking about equal prize money with me. One phone call later, I had them a sponsor, and a few months after we had GP Twenty20 at the Koppenberg.
Since then, the prize money regulations have been updated and we race for equal money in all events outside the World Cup. But that first step is always in my mind when I go there. Last year I missed the race for the first time in a long time and had my collarbone plated the next day. Winning this year certainly felt as good as the nerve block I got this time last year, although both were an equal relief.
Prize Money: Prijzengeld
Back Home to France
So now is a mini training camp, but training camps for me involve being at home. I haven’t found a nicer place in Europe to ride than here, so two weeks in my own house, my own bed and my favourite training roads.
In the middle I’m going to race in Spain, somewhere I had planned to race several times last season but never managed to get to because of aforementioned surgery. Last week they raced in epic muddy conditions, so fingers crossed the grim weather can remain in place for one more week. Then it’s up to Denmark, a minor hop of just 1,918 km. I’m glad I’m flying, but I will spend all of my free time wondering how the long-suffering Stef is getting on as he trucks the length of Europe. He loves driving, so it’s basically a gift for him.
Training Camp: Stage
I’ll finish up with a few numbers for you. We’re 9 weeks into the season, I’ve done 18 races, won 4, and made only 3 trips into the pit box (This is ridiculous). I’ve not used a Limus, my mud tire, once this season. Yes that’s 0 times (This is ridiculous).
We’ve (Stef) driven 9,000 km and have 7,000k m more planned in the next 3 weeks (This is ridiculous). When I arrive back home in 3 weeks, I’ll have done half of my planned races for the season, be over halfway through the World Cup season, and we’ll be counting the days until Worlds (This is ridiculous).
So on that note, I tell you something else that’s truly ridiculous. Three years ago, my amazing sister-in-law got me a money box for two Euro coins that you can’t get into unless you smash it open. I’ve saved my Euros whenever I’ve gotten them, and today I finally filled it. THREE YEARS.
I’m off to grab a hammer and I’m gonna smash it and count money. If anyone wanted gift ideas for me, please do not buy me one of these again. Many thanks.