Inge van der Heijden and Marianne Vos, our two cyclo-cross riders, returned well from their successful trip to the United States, where they started in two World Cup races, resulting in three podium places (of which one victory). This coming Sunday, both will race in the Hotondcross in Ronse, Belgium.
Inge van der Heijden started the cross-season strongly. She acquired quite some confidence with her first top ten place ever (overall) in a World Cup race (Waterloo). In the U23 category, she finished second in that race. Also in the following cross (Iowa City), she was strong throughout the day, but the classification was slightly lower than the week before (twentieth overall, fifth in the U23 category).
“I did not have a great start in Waterloo, but I was able to move little by little to a remarkable ninth place. The field in Iowa was about the same as the one in Waterloo. However, the course was very heavy due to rainfall shortly before the start. In particular, I noticed that I was still missing some power on the running parts of the slopes as opposed to other riders. In any case, I am more than happy how the season has started.”
She hopes to perform again strongly in the Hotondcross next Sunday. “I have digested the trip to the United States well. And the course in Ronse suits me well: steep parts, challenging descents. Hopefully the lap will be dry. Last year, despite some mechanicals, I finished nineteenth here. It would be very nice if I could confirm, for example with a place in the top fifteen, that I have improved.”
Marianne Vos took the victory in Waterloo and finished third in Iowa. “In the first cross, I was not in top shape, but I won nevertheless. And the second one was simply very heavy. I had nothing to spare. Finishing twice on the podium, is nice. Of course, you never know in advance what your form is, but the opening of this season proves that my condition is good. The choice to start in the United States has been positive. Inge and I had a nice stay.”
After having been home in the Netherlands for a few days, the jetlag has disappeared. The cyclo-cross in the Flemish Ronse seems to come at the right time. “The cycling is going well, I can continue to progress. Hopefully it will emerge on Sunday. On paper, Ronse is a very heavy cross. Much will also depend on the circumstances - if it rains, then the course will be similar to Iowa. I would like to follow up on the good season start, but I do not want to put pressure on myself.”