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January 31/06 3:48 am - 'Cross Worlds Report


Posted by Editor on 01/31/06
 

'Cross Worlds Report

Here is the final report from national team member Wendy Simms and manager Normon Thibault.

Wendy Simms

Well, just because you do everything right (rest lots, avoid pastries, follow your program, hydrate, etc.) for the World Championships doesn't mean that everything is going to go right....

It was -7C and crystal clear when we woke up so the biggest factor was going to be the cold. Saturday they had put lots of sawdust on the course so it wasn't very icy anymore just f-a-s-t. I was hoping to do my warm up on the course but I changed my mind after one lap when I realized that 30,000 people were watching my every move. I found a good little side road to warm up on (after passing thousands of fans walking to the course). Nothing left to do but race.

I was called up unceremoniously to the second last row. The gun went and I started out fine but didn't really seem to be moving up all that much - it might have had something to do with the tanned Italian chick that was slamming me into the gates/fence at every turn. I had to back off a bit for fear of going down. The descent was clean and I had a good spot going into the stairs and hill. I was "in" (at the very back of) the big chase group with Lyne Bessette (cyclocrossworld.com) near the front. I could hear people cheering Canada all over the place.

I dangled off the back of them for the first lap but could not close the gap before the long open start/finish stretch so I was on my own in the wind. So close. A few girls were close behind but I was riding the twisty sections and downhill faster than most so I would get some breathing space on the uphill. I even caught the big chase group again but the wheel I caught was off the back when I got there. A few girls joined me including a Belgian girl that is dating Bart Wellens (big wig cyclo-cross racer) so all the fans know her from the reality TV show "Wellens and We." My cheering section could no longer be heard but at least I got some draft off her.

Soon after (lap 3) my Kona teammate Ann Knapp rocketed past me and I jumped on her wheel. This was good. Except....my hands were now frozen and I couldn't feel my braking. I went into the downhill right behind her and bit it!! I thought I had been braking but apparently it was not enough. Lucky for me they caught it on TV and showed it on the jumbotron for all to see. I botched the second half of the downhill too and had to work the uphill as 5-6 girls had passed me. But I couldn't brake again going into the windmill section so I blew through the course fence and had to jump it to get back on. Two more girls passed me.

I tried to beat some blood into my hands while trying not to lose sight of the girls ahead. The rest of my race was spent with Veerle (the Belgian girl with the big cheering squad) back and forth back and forth back and forth. It was a good battle. You would think it was a fight to the death between the two of us but it was really a fight for 22nd place. I managed to win the battle in a sprint finish.

So, not even close to my goal of top ten. I was pretty disappointed but I couldn't be too disappointed because other than losing the big group at the end of lap 1 and the crash I had a pretty decent race. I think I was most disappointed in my lack of improvement. Even if I didn't crash and have 7 or 8 girls pass me I doubt I would have had a better result than last year. And I had done everything right. I had done everything the same as last year. But maybe that is the point, I had done everything the same so why should I have seen an improvement?? Lots to think about on the long flight home but time to put it away and have fun for the rest of the trip.

Thanks to everyone who helped me get here. Thanks to Kona for providing with me with 2 incredible bikes that took me far this season, to Norm for being an amazing support spoke for me and a great team manager for Canada, to Pim and Beert our mechanics who had our bikes dialed for the race, to the Malaspina crew who covered for me at work so I could chase my dream of a top ten at cyclocross worlds (we have chocolate!), to Helly Hansen for keeping me toasty warm and stylish, to my brother Kevin who coaches me, to Robbie Orange for being the last minute go-to man, and thanks to the rest of the Canadian team who made this trip super fun and reminded me how big of a deal it is to be part of this event.

Rob Orange's SuperFan Report

The nice thing about being over 40 is...you don't ALWAYS have to race...I'd decided on fairly short notice to check out the World Cyclocross Championships in Zeddam...quite something for a guy who 16 months ago not only laughed with derision at his cyclocross riding friends but vowed he would never race cross...so much for that...one race and I was hooked...here I am in Zeddam Sunday night chilling with what's left of the Canadian contingent...

UNBELIEVABLE is about the only way to describe this entire whirlwind trip...I arrived Friday morning in Amsterdam, took the train to Arnhem, promptly found my hotel, put my bike together, hopped on it and made the solo pilgrimage to Zeddam...25km...shouldn't take that long I thought...welcome to Holland...as much as I took the milk route...it was worth it...what should have been a one hour ride took two hours...but I got to the race sight...watched some of the riders warming up, but as the temperature dropped I figured I try to find my buddy G Reain in Braampt...I did and that's where the fun truly began...it was nice to see Greg...looking chill as usual...he took me back to the Canadian team home cabin...so Canadian eh!

Everyone was in a great mood and seemed quite focused yet relaxed. Friday was a quiet night...Saturday morning the place lit up with energy...I can't say enough about the organizational skills and calm demeanor of Chef de Mission, Normon...totally relaxed he took care of both Mike and Ryan on Saturday, and had the elite racers well taken care of Sunday...Mike had a great race...looked great rode well and and had a great finish...the best part was his mother at the finish line..." Son we are so proud of you!" His performance would have made any Canadian proud...but it didn't end there...

Ryan had to overcome significant technical challenges to also represent the flag extremely well...both races had hundreds and hundreds of spectators...some places two and three deep...so cool...then came Sunday...three women in the morning Lyne, Wendy and Stacey and one man in Elite...the one, the only...Greg Reain...

As far as spectating goes...I had the drill down pretty well this time...where to be off the start, then I bullied my way onto the TV platform for some wicked video footage of all the racers on the long stair runup...Sunday morning there were probably 6000 to 7000 people watching the women's race...and by the start of the men's race...easily 10,000...some spots on the course were ten deep...it was nuts...five HUGE beer tents,,,tons of concession stands...monster video screen...and RABID fans...superfan could learn a thing or two about commitment from some of the Belgians that's for sure!!!

The best part of the whole weekend was each individual Canadian racer rode as hard as they could and represented Canada with pride and dignity...they were inspiring...individually and collectively...Of course I must give props to Pim and Bert...the two Dutch mechanics were so impressive, and proud to be a part of the Canadian Team...that should tell you something of the quality of people these athletes are...till next year.

Last Word by Norm

Well we missed having Corey here this year! It has been pretty cool to see Canada go from two girls in 2004 to a team of 6 in 2005 with a Junior and then another team of 6 this year with a junior and an Espoir. What is it going to take to get a full Canadian Team over there?? Or at least our top 3 in each category? Come on! There is only one way to check it out and that is to jump in.

It has been an amazing trip (again and as always). I have never had to put on SO many clothes (4 lower layers and 6 upper layers) in my life! Great racing! Huge efforts by all the Canadian athletes. All forking out their own money to get over here and test themselves against the best in the world. It is truely an inspirational trip. It was great to get to know a few people for the first time (Mike, Ryan, Robert and Stu) and to get to know others better (Lyne, Stacy, Greg and Pim).

It is a team effort over here and everyone pitches in. We had incredible support from Bert and Pim who donated their time.

Behind the scenes in Canada we had Sean and Kris with his broken ankle getting our passes formalized and answering questions from the rookie team manager.

All our shop staff at Frontrunners covering me while I was away. My Dad taking care of our house and Marty and the crew at Malaspina making sure that Wendy was covered. No one goes to the world championships of any sport without support!

If you missed any of the other reports you can find them on: www.frontrunners.blogspot.com/ I will post pictures from our trip

Remember the Nationals (Qualifier for Worlds) is in Nanaimo on November 11, 2006......see you there!

 


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