Anyone considering women's cyclo-cross championships says Sunny Kant. She hasn't been able to win the tricolor for 14 years in a row, but if one woman can win a 15th straight, it's Laura Verdonschut. The 27-year-old from Limburg is very confident: “I expect more from the Belgian championship than usual. I will go to Meulebeke to win.”
How many times has Laura Verdonschut thought about the 2017 Belgian Championships in Ostend in recent years? The 20-year-old chick challenged Sunny Kant on the coast, but had to settle for silver.
It seemed only a matter of time before Verdonschut took over the leadership of the Belgian flame, but 7 years later, the Cant chain has yet to be broken, and Verdonschut has sailed a lot of waters.
“I'm really looking forward to it,” she told our correspondent about the Belgian championship during a training session today. “I experienced it differently during this period. For example, last year I was sick in my seat.”
Verdonschut knows she's doing well. “And with good fitness you can do anything. I think I'm the best version of myself ever.”
Two years ago I didn't think this was possible anymore. I saw black snow. At that time I thought about quitting and no longer saw the point in investing in my career.
Verdonschot has recorded excellent results in recent weeks. For example, I finished fourth in Koksijde and sixth in Zonhoven.
“Two years ago I no longer thought it was possible. I saw black ice. I even thought about quitting at that time and I no longer saw the point in investing in my career.”
“I did everything for it at the time, but it didn't work out. It's frustrating when you know where you stand compared to other peers. But I kept going and I'm proud to be here.”
The cyclocross racer was able to connect with her team De Ceuster-Bonache. “I'm enjoying cycling again. I've forgotten why I started this sport.”
“I'm enjoying myself again and I'm not always thinking about performance anymore. I felt better this summer and I feel good about myself. Then you keep that momentum going.”
The smartest in the race
Therefore, Laura Verdonschut is the favorite next Saturday in Meulebeke. “We have three good candidates,” she says. “I am not writing off Sane and everyone is also forgetting Marion Norbert Ribroll.”
“I expect more from the Belgian championship than usual. I will go to Molebeke to win. A podium will not make me happy, but I realize that there is also a very good chance that I will lose.”
“The Belgian Championship will be a different proposition, even without the best Dutch riders. You have to open the race yourself. Sane is used to racing, we are a little less so.”
But Verdonschut is using her experience from the first weeks of this season. She then started racing on Spanish soil deliberately and won several smaller cyclo-cross races.
“I've learned to change my style again. I wasn't often the smartest in the race, but I know how to react to situations again and that will be important on Saturday.”
The Belgian title will be the crowning achievement of my career and the season in which I struggled to become the person I am today.
“It's nice for them to look at me,” says Verdonschut, who by no means denies the role of favourite.
“No one has expected this yet and I hope this becomes a reality. This will be the biggest achievement of my career and the season in which I have struggled to be the person I am today.”
“I have worked for this for a long time. In that Belgian championship in Ostend I thought I still had enough years, but I was behind the scenes for years. It could also happen on Saturday, but I reached my best level ever. “
Are there no nerves then? “There is a natural tension. I have already been in this situation, but Sane was often a little better than me. Now I have a feeling that I am better, although this is not a guarantee of victory. I hope I win and the team wins.” Of course it gives you stress.”
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