Catching up with Dutch captain and reigning Cyclocross World Champion Marianne Vos on the Eve of Louisville2013.
Let's do this verbatim style. I met up with Marianne at her hotel Friday, just as word was breaking about the schedule change for the 2013 UCI Cyclocross World Championships and just before she was to head out to the course for one last recon.
PdC: Is this your first time racing in the US?
Marianne Vos: Ah, I’ve done a track world cup in 2008, in Los Angeles, but yeah, besides that this is the first time.
PdC: How did you pick Cleveland, Texas for your initial destination?
MV: Well, we wanted to go on a straight flight without a stop and there was a good flight to Houston. We wanted to get in the same time zone, and there was only a one hour difference. And we wanted somewhat better weather conditions than here. So we picked a spot on the map. Not too far south, not too hot is not good preparation. And we ended up in Cleveland, Texas.
PdC: You’ve done lots of long trips like this, like going to China. Is it difficult for your body to adjust to the time zone?
MV: Not really, of course it needs some time, but for me it was not really a problem. But we came here early to be sure to get ready for the race.
PdC: Have you noticed a lot of excitement about your coming to the United States? The fans, media, etc.?
MV: Yeah! Especially the social media, I’ve got a lot of reactions on Facebook and Twitter. I feel, especially because the rivalry between Katie Compton and me, it’s good to know that people are excited.
PdC: You won a world championship in your home country so you probably know a bit about what it feels like for Katie now?
MV: Yeah, I always feel an enormous amount of extra motivation when I race in front of home crowds, so she’ll be really good tomorrow, I think. Eh, tomorrow.
PdC: Right, tomorrow! (It’s Friday morning, word has just come of the schedule change)
What do you think about the course, on a scale of one to ten if one is a terrible course for you and ten is a perfect one?
MV: Ah, seven. It’s a good course for me. It’s not perfect, just a normal cyclocross course for me, and I think I can use my capacities on this course.
PdC: When you come to a course you’re not familiar with and you’re previewing it, are you thinking about places where you can attack, or is that something you figure out spontaneously during a race?
MV: Of course there are some stretches that you feel best in, where you can use your skills. For me it’s more the small uphills and the explosive parts with more technical skills, so of course I look to that in the preparation and when I preview the course.
PdC: A couple questions about your road calendar. You took a little bit shorter calendar with your cyclocross this year?
MV: Well, not really, actually, The last few years have been same. One world cup more in the end of November. I skipped Koksijde from my plan because of the short preparation, but I’ve done all the race from half December until now. So from America it doesn’t look big, but I’ve done 13 or 14 races.
PdC: Is this balance between cyclocross and road something where you have it down now to where you want it?
MV: Yeah. Of course, I needed some rest after the Olympic season, which was pretty hard physically and mentally. And then you need time to build up again, especially for the road season I have to lay down the base layer. And that’s so hard during the cyclocross season, it’s so intense that the base layer training is hard to do well. But I try my best and hope to be ready.
PdC: The Ronde van Vlaanderen, I know you weren’t there last year but what do you think about the new course?
MV: Yeah, I was ill. It’s a shame because it’s a big goal for me. I won pretty much everything (insert shy laugh), so I want to add that to my palmares. I haven’t seen the course, I’m going to do a pre-ride the week before. It’s always difficult so it doesn’t really matter what’s in it. It’s always nervous, the cobbles, you don’t know the weather. It’s always hard.
PdC: When there’s a race of that significance that you have never won before, does that become a special priority for you?
MV: Yeah, there’s not many races that I haven’t won before. Flanders has a special priority, not only because I haven’t won it but because it’s a really big race. It’s one of the biggest, most important races we have in the world. Now we have the world cups, and that’s the third world cup. All sorts of climbers, classic riders, everybody focuses on Flanders.
PdC: Other than that your season is similar to past years, focusing on the Giro Donne.
MV: Yeah, very similar to past years.
PdC: Las question, the change in the sponsorship, have things gone smoothly for you?
MV: For us it has been quite smooth. Of course there are some changes in structure and organization, it has to be built up again. But actually for us as riders, it didn’t make a big difference. For the first few days we were a bit insecure, but then we were sure that Rabobank would keep supporting us, so it was good to know. It’s really nice to know that we can build on the road to Rio.
PdC: It seems significant that they were making a change with the mens’ team but they were not making a change with you? That’s an expression of confidence, right?
MV: Yeah, that’s nice, I’m really happy to have that support from Rabobank, but also the public opinion is like that, and I really appreciate the public confidence in me as an athlete.