Q&A with Lucinda Brand on the transition from cross to road

Trek-Segrafredo caught up with Lucinda Brand before the start of Lotto Thüringen Ladies Tour, where she went on to take two stage wins and the overall title, to talk about switching between cross to road racing.

How would you sum up your 2021 Cross season?

 

  • Unexpected. Definitely better than I could have thought or wished for. It’s not so usual to win all kinds of competitions and so many races, almost never being off the podium. It was a crazy season, and of course I’m very happy with it.

Lucinda Brand on the podium after winning the rainbow jersey at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships

At the end of your cross season, what do you do for the next weeks?

 

  • First, I have a little break. Then, this year, I went to Italy to build up for the road. Of course I had been doing some endurance rides, but way less than the average road rider. I had to catch up some endurance. Then it wasn’t so long before the road races started again. The first races weren’t so great but they were good training to improve.

How do you change your training style when transitioning to the road?

 

  • Well, I skip my running. Basically, I do more hours. In the winter I still do intervals, but on shorter rides, and it’s mostly around the forest so it’s not so structured. On the road I do really clearly defined and longer intervals. I really try to keep up with the explosive part because that’s my weakness, the endurance isn’t so difficult for me to train. When I’m more on the road and doing the longer stuff I still try to keep some explosive training in, otherwise I lose it very quickly.

Do you think your cross racing helps you when it comes to racing on the road?

 

  • For sure, I feel a lot more explosive. Something I noticed in the first races was when I made an effort I couldn’t hold it for so long, but then I would recover quickly and be ready again one minute later. I think that comes from the typical cross intervals which are much shorter and repeated. It makes me more explosive so that’s for sure a big benefit, and also you feel more comfortable on the bike. There are some races where you can save energy and stress by being good at handling your bike. Maybe small things that you don’t think so much about but at the end of a hard race it can make a difference.

How were you feeling at the first road races of the season?

 

  • This year, my very first ‘road’ race of the season was Strade Bianche, where I arrived as a reserve rider, and it went really well. I had only resumed training four days beforehand so that was a big surprise. Then, I expected a lot from my next races but actually it was a bit of a slap in my face because I really struggled. It put my two feet back on the ground. Then you need to switch a bit the mindset, of course it’s a bit disappointing but I could already feel that I was getting better with each subsequent race, which of course gives a good feeling. I knew I still had to train to catch up with the others, but luckily that went quickly and in the Ardennes I had really good shape. It was a nice way to finish the spring season.

Lucinda Brand racing Strade Bianche

Are the first road races purely used for training?

 

  • Not really, but at Strade Bianche I knew I was a support rider from the beginning so if I was not able to stay with the front riders then I should finish the race even if I was out of the action for the training. At Flanders I wasn’t in the race for the win anymore so I tried to keep pushing it up the hills to keep hurting myself and to make myself better instead of taking it easy because I knew I would benefit from it. But, I don’t mark races as ‘training’ because when I race I normally have a role to play I want to take the best out of it.

How were you feeling through the Ardennes?

 

  • In the Ardennes I was feeling really good and it’s alwayd nice at those kinds of races. After Liège I took a little break again and two weeks later I came back to racing in Spain. Again, I didn’t expect too much form these races because I hadn’t been training so much for two weeks and I was moving house. But, suddenly I had really good legs so I surprised myself there in a positive way. I think it shows that when you take a little rest when you are in good form then you can keep your level high. I think I should still be able to bring up the form even higher, but I think it’s good for your mental health to have a little break sometimes. I think in this time it worked out very well.