The former MTB World Champion tackles her first CX races of the year
Jolanda Neff will be participating in nine cyclocross races over the next weeks to prepare for her primary goal, the UCI MTB World Cup circuit that kicks off in May. Neff will target three World Cups and her National Championships in her cyclocross tour, culminating with the World Championships in Denmark in early February.
In her first World Cup in Namur on December 23rd, Jolanda Neff started from the 5th row and worked her way through the field to finish in an incredible 5th place. It was also her debut race for Trek Factory Racing.
I felt really good during the race, and I especially enjoyed the running parts. My cycling legs are definitely at the beginning of my race buildup as I have only done three and a half weeks of training in New Zealand. My build up is targeted for my mountain bike season where the World Cup starts the end of May.
Teammate Ellen Noble, who will also be tackling a full mountain bike season after cyclocross, finished in 17th place. Noble got off to her usual fast start, taking an early lead before fading in the latter part of the race.
I'm pretty happy with how today went. I finished 17th and felt really confident technically. I am feeling the effects of a lot of travel recently but really happy with the progress being made this season and excited for the coming races to apply what I've learned.
For Neff, racing the first time with her new team, she gushed over the support she received:
“It was great to get back to racing, and my first race ever for the Trek Factory Racing team,” added Neff. “I must say I am blown away by the support, and I have never had anything that even comes close in my career. I was set up with four bikes, so many wheels with all the tire choices, mechanics, physio, and Jon (Rourke), the team manager – it was simply incredible! It feels like I am dreaming. I only had to arrive and race – this type of support is simply mind-blowing.”
Three days later and one day after Christmas, Neff and Noble raced the Zolder World Cup. Neff again started far back in the grid, and this time she couldn’t avoid getting caught up in a large crash soon after the start.
“I started from 6th row, and in the first corner I got tangled up in a big crash, and my bike was in the fence. Until I could free my bike and myself from the other riders, I was dead last of the field, and there had never been so many at the start of a World Cup – 87 – so I was in position 87 after the first corner.
“I moved up as well as I could, but every rider you want to pass it takes a couple seconds. I ended somewhere in the top 30, I don’t even know the position exactly, something like 27. It was disappointing as I was looking forward to this race. But after the crash, there was nothing I could do. I want to recover well now and hoping for a better start at the next race. I am looking forward to improving, to get faster, stronger and feel better – thanks so much to Trek!”
Jolanda Neff ended in 26th place while Ellen Noble improved one position from the Namur World Cup to finish in 16th.