Last Rider Standing

Most people look back at their year on New Years Eve, taking the traditional New Year’s Resolutions. My new year’s resolutions would be something like « don’t buy yet another new bike » or «  stop eating Nutella » . But who has ever managed to stick to these resolutions for the whole year? I didn’t.

If you are a professional athlete, you look back at your sporting year at the end of your season, and while I don’t take my new year’s resolutions really serious, I do so with my end of the season recap . A season isn’t all white or all black, at least not mines. Fortunately most of the time things run smooth and nice. It might sound strange in your eyes but at the end of the season I don’t focus too much on what went right. Because it went right and you don’t need or want to change things that went right. Don’t misunderstand me, I do keep in memory the good days and the good results, they are obvisouly motivation for what is coming. But easy success never made me better nor the rider I am today.
Picture: How you want every race to end (Velofocus)
When things don’t go as expected or planned I need to understand why. Because it went wrong and you need to change things that went wrong.
This year has been kind of complicated for me. Not because it has been a bad year, I still finish the year with my best UCI ranking at the end of the season (14th right now I think), only because I felt I could have done better but for some reasons, I didn’t. I scored 2nd (Elsy Jacobs, TTT Worlds) and especially 4th places at major races this year ( Cx Worlds, OVO Energy Women’s Tour, Tour of Norway). Sometimes 2nd or 4th feels great because you gave all you had and others were just better. In cases like that you accept the situation and travel home with a good feeling. But when you feel you missed out your chances for a few times in a row it makes things harder to accept. The reasons might have been multiple: Maybe wrong strategy in GB and at CX Worlds, very obvious loss of focus in Norway, probably being isolated in Elsy Jacobs. The good thing about the bad thing is that there is always a possibility to learn of your mistakes. This means that my homework for the winter is to find a solution to the question: How to turn good results into great results?
Picture: 4th again… 
The end of the season is also a good opportunity to look ahead to the next year. By now most of the transfers have been officially announced. As you probably know I re-signed with my current team Boels-Dolmans. I have joined the team in 2014. By then it was a middle ranked team but they had a nice long term project to become one of the best teams in the world in the following years. The project did work out, didn’t it? But maybe more important then that, over all these years we weren’t only a bunch of randomly mixed up people trying to ride their bike as fast as we could, we also grew together as friends. 2019 will be a little bit special for me as I will be the last survivor from the riders that started the adventure in 2014. This year only Lizzie, Megan and me were left from the original rider squad. Lizzie is moving to a different team and Megan is a lucky retired rider right now (and I hope she got herself that dog she was dreaming about for several years already). I might loose teammates to an other team or to retirement but I hope I won’t loose the friendship we have had over the last 4 years. Because at the end of the day or your career only a few people will remember your success but maybe your friends will remember you forever.
Picture: The last survivor of that squad
This sad part being said, most of my last years team mates will still be my teammates next year, the world champion will still be my teammate this year, just like the world champion from the year before and the world champion for the year before the year before. And I will get new teammates which should be fun. Katie Hall impressed me two years ago when we raced in California. She probably remembers more the Boels-Dolmans vs UHC clash (which very obvisouly wasn’t even worth talking about) then she will remember me but that’s ok. She probably won’t be able to teach me any of her climbing skills because there really isn’t any hope left for me in that domain, but I hope I can teach her some of my « how to survive European racing » skills just because I believe that that is the major difficulty most of the American riders have when they come over for their first full time European season. But she choose the right team to make that transition smooth and easy. I am pretty sure though I don’t have to teach anything of those skills to Jolien D’Hoore. It will be a huge boost for the team to get a so called real bunch sprinter in the team as that was maybe one of our weakest points until now. And finally Eva Buurman will join us as well. Pretty sure you noticed her name already from time to time in the rankings. She scored some nice top10 results in Women’s World Tour races this year which shows her qualities. She should fit in easily as well because she is… Dutch.
Picture: Old and new World Champion . Velofocus
The team recently announced as well the add of a new second DS, Richard Groenendaal. The news was out only a few hours when my brother called me. He told me I absolutely had to get him a signature from my new DS. It appeared he was a big fan of him at the time he was one of the best cyclo-cross riders in the worlds. Don’t get me wrong brother but I would find it awkward asking my DS for an autograph and he would find it awkward as well probably. I will let him know he has a fan, or in case he is reading this right now: You have a fan!
I absolutely love the fact the team is bringing a ex Cyclo-cross rider into the team! It is no secret it’s the discipline of my heart and I hope I can learn a lot of him. Right now I just received my new Cross bikes and I am absolutely in love with them.
Picture: Best looking bike ever (obviously)
I would like to race them straight away but I have to be a little bit more patient though before starting real efforts again on the bike. As you know my end of the season has been kind of a disaster due to illness at the end of August and never finding the right shape back in September. I did some more medical checks when I was home from Worlds and my blood results showed that I was fighting some sort of virus over all that time, which probably also explains my poor performances in September. I also got told to take it a little bit longer easy to make sure my body is fully recovered from it before racing again. I will see day by day and week by week how it goes. The goal is to have some good performances in January. Taking some more easy days now won’t endanger that goal but going all in too early will for sure mean the end of the season before it even started. And that would be sad.
Picture: would be sad to miss this! picture: Cyclingpictures
And remember those easy days aren’t lost days as they will bring the answer to the question: how to turn good results into great results!
Keep up the thinking,

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