The 95th edition of the UCI Road Championships kicks off on Sunday in Australia, far from the sport’s European base. The second World Cup Down Under is causing problems due to the long journey and high costs.
Karsten Kron led twelve world championships in his professional career. The 2010 championship in Geelong, Australia was the toughest for him, and not just because he was attacked by an aggressive Australian magpie while training a few days before the road race.
“This jet lag has made this World Cup complicated,” the former rider says in a conversation with NU.nl. “A four or five hour difference is still fine, but that’s eight and that really makes it a different story. You can make up for that somewhat by going to bed at home earlier, but you’re also at risk with your hormonal balance being in a complete slump. . “Confounded. I had so much jet lag, I just couldn’t stand it.”
Kirsten Wilde, who ran in the women’s road race in 2010, was better able to handle the huge time difference. But the Dutchman who stopped at the end of last year also stresses that it is important for every rider to think carefully about how to limit the negative consequences of the long journey as much as possible. “You can be off track for days due to jet lag.”
Wilde has always followed jet lag protocol throughout her career. On a trip to Australia, she would always get up an hour earlier at home so that she would have crossed at least half of the time difference eight hours before departure. “It was a little antisocial for the home front, because when I was having dinner, everyone was having lunch,” she says with a laugh. “But when I arrived I felt like I’d adapted better because of it.”
Once in Geelong, Wilde and her roommate Chantal Black each morning looked for twenty minutes at a daylight lamp, which the Dutch cycling association KNWU provided commuters to aid their biological clocks. “This was a fairly new tool at the time. Now there are phototherapy glasses that work better. I always liked to think about these kinds of things. It felt professional and you felt like you were one step ahead of the competition.”
Van Vleuten and Evenepoel left the day after the Vuelta
The rule of thumb when coping with jet lag is that you need a day for every hour of time difference. Because of the busy cycling calendar, it was not possible for most of the World Cup participants to be in Australia eight days before their first race.
For example, Vuelta a España winners Remco Evenepoel and Annemiek van Vleuten boarded the plane last Monday, a day after the Tour of Spain ended. They are among the favorites for the individual time test on Sunday, the first part of the World Cup in Wollongong.
“Anime left relatively late,” Wilde says. “So you can see that she was already working on the World Cup during the Vuelta, for example by doing a 50km practice run before the third stage in the morning. But it will still be very difficult for Annemiek to fit in completely in the time trial on Sunday. And that applies. Definitely the guys who got out of three weeks of Vuelta last Sunday very tired, like Evenepoel.”
Mathieu van der Poel won’t even start the long journey to Australia until Saturday evening. From Brussels, with a layover in Dubai, fly to Sydney in about 25 hours. From there, it’s about an hour’s drive to Wollongong, located a little further south.
“It’s a long and exhausting journey, but that’s part of it,” van der Poel says. “I don’t sleep well on a plane, so I’ll rest and watch some movies. I’ll arrive Monday morning local time after a broken night, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because I usually feel tired enough in the evening to get a good night’s sleep. First night.”
Most of the World Cup participants have already trained in Australia this week.
Many toppers skipping the trip to Australia
Van der Poel, who is focused on next Sunday’s road race, decided just two weeks ago that he was in the World Cup. One of the reasons for his suspicions was the long journey.
“We talked about other potential goals in the fall, like the one-day races in Italy. I think a lot of the riders have their doubts. You also see that many of the racers are choosing to stay indoors.”
For example, French outsider Benoît Cosnefroy, last week’s winner in Canada’s GP Quebec WorldTour, has been canceled due to the long trip. Dane Mads Pedersen also skips the World Cup. “My level is great, but I also have a life besides cycling,” the 2019 world champion said during the Vuelta, in which he won three stages. “If I had led the World Cup, I would have been away from home for seven weeks. That was not a good idea mentally for me.”
Mads Pedersen became world champion in 2019 in Yorkshire. It is not in Australia.
The Irish Football Association thinks the World Cup is too expensive and doesn’t send knights
There is also the financial component of the World Cup in Australia. KNWU Director Thorwald Feinberg said two weeks ago devotion The costs of the Dutch federation rise to about 200,000 euros. “The World Cup is often very expensive for us, especially because we participate in all categories. But this time it is really a lot,” he said.
Due to rising costs, the Irish Football Association has decided not to send any riders to this year’s World Cup. All New Zealand and some Australian riders, who live mostly in Europe during the season, had to pay their own travel costs if they wanted to participate.
“I thought the World Cup in Australia twelve years ago was a great spectacle,” Wilde says. “It’s good in a way that the sport has become more global.” “But for unions, a tournament like this is a big part of their budget. And in this day and age, you can also wonder if it’s okay for an entire circus to travel to Australia and back because of sustainability.”
The Cycling World Championships starts at night from Saturday to Sunday at 1.35am (Netherlands time) with the women’s time trial. The men will begin the trial at 5.40 am.
Dutch World Cup participants at elite level
- Women’s Trial: Elaine Van Dyck, Anime Van Vleuten, Shereen Van Anroy
- Women’s Road Race: Animek van Vleuten, Marian Voss, Demi Fullering, Florty McCaig, Elaine Van Dyck, Reagan Marcus, Shereen Van Anroy
- Men’s Time Trial: Bauke Mollema, Daan Hoole
- Men’s Road Race: Mathieu van der Poel, Dylan van Barley, Bok Mollema, Dan Hall, Pascal Einkorn, Watte Boys, Jan Maas, Taco van der Horn
- Mixed Team Time: Pauki Mollema, Dan Hoole, Matthew van der Poel, Elaine van Dijk, Animek van Vleuten, Reagan Marcus
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