The Swiss mountain bike champion opens 2019 with her first CX victory in Belgium
Jolanda Neff did not take long to find back her racing legs, winning the GP Sven Nys in Baal Tuesday, only her fifth cyclocross start as she prepares for the 2019 mountain bike XCO season.
I felt great in today’s race, I think it was my first cyclocross race that I could enjoy from start to finish. I could start in the second row which was better than all the other races before, and I had a really good start and moved up through the riders and could take the first corner in first position. This saved so much energy and time in the first lap that I had lost in other races. It felt just amazing to be out there in the front.
The former mountain bike world champion is kicking off her season with cyclocross, and being late to the scene has started far back in the starting grids, but getting a better start Tuesday was all she needed to show she belonged with the cyclocross elite in Baal. Grabbing an early lead in the first lap, Neff was eventually tamed by lap two and Sanne Cante was quick to counter, opening up a 15-second gap.
Other girls caught up to me in the second lap and Sanne Cante passed me really fast and I could hardly follow her. But then I recovered a little bit and I could catch her back. We were a group of 5 riders, and I was at the back, but I could ride to the front again. And then I got a gap to the group and a couple laps later close the gap back to Sanne. I felt really good and when I was with her, I knew I had to go to the front and just ride my race from the front because it would be about small mistakes. Every second is important.
After Neff regained the lead, a slip by Cante was all she needed, and she held her lead to the finish.
I rode to the front and made a small gap and Sanne made a small mistake. Anyway, I just felt really good and the support from the team was absolutely perfect. My dad was also there so that made it really special for me, too. Of course, it was so cool that it was Sven’s race and we had already stayed at Sven’s place the whole week and could check the track together with him. It was a great day for Trek and an amazing way to start the new year.