For cross country world champion José Hermida (Multivan Merida), Mont-Sainte-Anne is a special race venue. It's where he won the 2010 title, the first in his then 14-year career. Since that September victory, however, Hermida seems to be plagued with bad luck. It is, perhaps, the dreaded curse of the rainbow-striped jersey, and he's hoping to return to success on one of his favorite courses at this weekend's cross country World Cup, also in Mont-Sainte-Anne.
Speaking of the cross country World Cup on Saturday, Hermida said, "I want to leave the bad luck of recent months behind."
Hermida arrived at Mont-Sainte-Anne earlier this week and thoughts of last year filled his mind. "When I came back a few days ago, all the memories from last year came back like flashes from the past," said Hermida. "But I realised that I have to stop dreaming and focus on Saturday's race. Now I am back in reality, and I really want to get back on the podium after two catastrophic races in Europe."
So far in 2011, Hermida's best World Cup performance is a fourth place in Pietermaritzburg. When asked what has gone wrong, he said, "My start of the season was definitely not as I had expected. But this is racing! Sometimes luck is on your side, sometimes it’s not. I really hope that I can change the situation with the World Cup races in Mont-Sainte-Anne and in Windham."
Hermida will also race the next World Cup in Windham, New York in the United States on July 9-10.
The Spanish star has described the effects of getting dressed in the rainbow jersey as both motivating and pressuring.
"First it is funny to have everybody's eyes on you. But than you realise, that in races everybody wants to beat the world champion," said Hermida. "You suddenly become everybody's enemy number one. I have fewer friends now than before."
"No, seriously: There is definitely a lot of pressure on the world champion, but that is part of the game. If you see that from a positive side, it is easy to handle."
Hermida said he needed a break after the two World Cup races in Europe at Dalby and Offenburg. "Now I am really focussed on the next two World Cup races, but the European Championships and especially the world championships are the two major goals for me."
"I feel very comfortable in Mont-Sainte-Anne, the race track is one of my favourites. I hope to be successful here again. But most importantly, I hope that now I can leave all the bad luck of recent months behind."