Australian U23 Cyclo-Cross champion Chris Aitken took some time out after tackling his first World CX Championship in Belgium to answer a few of our questions.
What was the toughest thing about the race?
Everyone is fast here. It’s not like back home where there is a group of 5 people get away and you only have to concentrate on them. Also everyone fights for their position, they don’t want to give it up easy and it may take a few back and forth try’s before you end up making the pass stick.
Then there’s the mud. It’s a completely different feeling to what we train on here in Australia. You need to spend more time riding in the conditions to become comfortable with the feeling underneath your tires.
What were the thoughts going through your mind as the race wore on? Did your goals change?
My mind set was always to finish but I had a lot of unplanned issues that made it very hard to achieve my goal and even the race in the end.
Was there anything in particular you took away?
This was my first CX World Champs and the main thing that I noticed was that they always make an unrideable section in the course and we don’t see enough of this back home. I would really like to try and implement a few styles of course setup that they use in some local races back home.
What was the general mood of all the Aussies after the days racing?
We were all quite happy as every rider finished on the lead lap and I believe that’s the first time ever, it’s a good step forward and sets a new standard for the Australian CX team now. We have only really been doing CX in Australia for 5 years now so we have a lot of catching up to do until we’re competitive with the Euros, but like all the other cycling disciplines we will get there but it won’t happen overnight.
Where to now for you in the coming year?
The next year I will be doing the National Series and possibly a few US races but I have to sit down with my coach and work out my race calendar.
Funniest thing that happened on tour?
My first day in Belgium Nick Smith and myself were walking down the street to the local supermarket and were stopped by the police. They made us put our hands up and face the wall, they then searched us to see what we were carrying and all we had was our phones, wallets and shopping bags. Nick was still holding a shopping bag while we were told to put our hands in the air and one office said “drop the bag” as if it was a lethal weapon or something. We tried not to laugh as we looked at each other because I always seem to have crazy things like this happen to me when I travel. After being searched a few minutes later we found out that there was two kids being suspicious in the area and the police stopped us as were in the age group described. It’s funny now but at the time it could of got a lot worse with us only knowing a small amount of Dutch.
If you could encourage someone to take up the sport, what would you say?
Cyclocross is a great sport that is safe and off road. You get to ride in the mud and even run your bike in some sections. It’s usually in a small area which make for an exciting atmosphere and also the races are short so you don’t need to train like a pro. It pretty much the most fun you can have on two wheels!!!!
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