At only sixteen years of age, Andrew Dillman is the youngest of the US National Team to be present at this year’s World Cyclo-Cross Championships. Despite being in his first season travelling overseas to race 'cross, Dillman has made a quick adjustment to European living, and once he has adjusted his gear bike gear to the course conditions he is set to aim for a big result.
After his training ride on the St. Wendel course Thursday, Dillman returned to the USA Cycling covered in mud. “I didn’t bring my mud tires to the course because I didn’t know it was going to be this slick. I was crashing everywhere. I slid out, ruined the shifting,” explains Dillman.
Going into World Championships, Dilllman has already proven himself on US soil, earning the bronze at US National Championships. As for his racing on European soil, he is confident he can perform better than he used to think possible.
“Zolder World Cup [end of December] was the first race here in Europe I was good at. In the race, I got up there with [Junior National Champion Jeff] Bahnson and Bjorn [Fox who is Junior Vice National Champion]. I guess being with those guys after not being with them the week before made me feel better about myself and I started racing better. Then after that I knew I had it in me. Now that I have been good in a couple of races, I feel a little better about myself.”
After that fateful race in Zolder where he crossed the line in 29th, Dillman went on to finish an impressive 18th at Azencross Loenhout, 6th in Sven Nys Baal, and 25th at the Hoogerheide World Cup.
As for his plan this Saturday, Dillman already worked something out with his National Coach, Mark Gullickson. “Last night, I talked with him about my last race – in Hoogerheide where I got 25th. If throughout that race I kept moving up the whole time from the back to 25th, then maybe if I passed ten more people than last time in the holeshot, that would be ten spots I wouldn’t have to move up later in the race. That would mean I would get fifteenth instead of 25th. It’s a theory but I just want to get a really good holeshot or try to at least. I think that’s the hardest part – to move up at the start because there are so many more of these kids than there are back at home.”
As for a specific goal in mind for the big day, Dillman gives it some thought. “I’m really good friends with [German junior rider] Yannick Eckmann. He’s now a favorite going into the race, so of course I want him to do really well. But last year he got fourteenth so I just want to do better than him so I can put it in his face.”