No pressure on Wild at home UCI Track World Championships

Dutch rider talks about her move to Wiggle-High5

Kirsten Wild says that there will be no extra pressure or meaning for her when she takes to the boards at the UCI Track World Championships this week.

The five-days of racing take place in Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands, for the first time since 2011 and Wild is part of a 19-rider Dutch team, which includes fellow road riders Amy Pieters and Annemiek van Vleuten.

Wild will have family and friends in attendance but, never one to be flustered, racing at home won't distract her from her end goal.

"A lot of people that I know will be watching the races, which will be really nice. In the end, it's a track race and the one that wins will get the rainbow jersey, whether or not it's a home race," Wild told Cyclingnews while training in Portugal earlier this month.

Wild, as the Netherlands federation pointed out when they named their Worlds team, is the rider with more chances than any to take home a gold. The 35-year-old is taking part in four of the five endurance events entered by the Dutch, with the Individual Pursuit the only one missing. She will be a contender in the Scratch and Points races, the Madison and the four-event Omnium.

"I like them all. I don't really have a favourite," she said. "I'm used to it. I also normally do it in the World Cups so it's okay I think."

Wild has previously won medals at the World Championships in almost all the events she competes in this year. In 2015, she claimed her one and only rainbow jersey in the Scratch competition and she took silver and bronze in the Omnium and Points Race respectively at last year's event. The Madison, which she will do with Amy Pieters, will be a new one for Wild at Worlds level. She and Pieters took bronze in the discipline at the European Championships and silver at the Minsk World Cup in January. Wild is a big fan of the format.

"I'm really curious about the Madison and how it will be," she said. "I think it's really cool. It's nice that men and women have the same programme. I don't know why they didn't have it before. I think that it is a really interesting event, and it's really cool that we have it.

"It's a real team event and I think that it brings in so many things from track cycling, with endurance, sprint, tactics, it's a bit of everything."

The World Championships will begin on Wednesday, February 28 with the Scratch race the first competition for Wild on the opening day of competition.

Moving to Wiggle-High5

The comparatively early nature of the Track World Championships – they were in mid-April last year – has meant that Wild has had to hold off on her road racing debut in 2018.

Last season, she completed 10 race days, including at the Santos Women's Tour, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Le Samyn des Dames, before contesting the World Championships. This time around, she rode the final round of the World Cup in Minsk, spent some time mixing road and track training in Portugal before a team training camp in Mallorca ahead of her return to the Netherlands for the Worlds. Her debut in Wiggle-High5 colours will have to wait until around the Energiewacht Tour at the beginning of April.

Wild signed for Wiggle-High5 in October of last year after just one season with the American Cylance squad. The conversation about a potential move started several months before and it was the British team's passion for the track that helped to seal the deal.

"We spoke in June a bit and then we kept contact over the season and then it just happened," she told Cyclingnews.

"They really support the track and that is one of the reasons I wanted to come to this team because they really support the dream of the track riders. It's hard to combine sometimes and if you get the support from the team then that is really nice."

Wiggle-High5 is Wild's sixth team as a professional rider with her two stints at the AA Drink squad the longest she's spent somewhere. Misfortune has played its part in Wild moving on, but emotion has too, as it did on this occasion.

"I think sometimes you just have a feeling that you want to move and this was a good feeling," she said. "I have had bad luck a few times with sponsors stopping after two years so then I had to change and then sometimes you get a great opportunity that you have to do and that's how it happens.

"You are still in the same competition, you do the WorldTour races, sometimes in this jersey and then in another jersey. It's a small world. It's not like going to a different job. You're doing more or less the same job with most of the same girls. When I was riding for Hitec, it was really nice and I really would have liked to race for another two years, but I also wanted to make a step and I felt that Cylance was a chance to make a step and get some bigger races or different races and sometimes that's how it goes."

Some of Wild's new teammates will be her competitors over the coming few days in Apeldoorn, but it won't be long before they are wearing the same colours. And after Wiggle-High5 enjoyed a strong start to the season Down Under, she is confident that they can enjoy a successful season together as teammates.

"They're really experienced and I trust that it will go really well. You see already that it is going really well with the wins of Edmondson in the Tour Down Under. You see a team that is working well together."

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