By Bjorn Haake in Koksijde
Paul Voss did his first cyclo-cross race this season in Koksijde on Saturday. He was racing in his 3C Gruppe Lamonta outfit, but next season he will be taking race starts in a Milram outfit. Given that Voss has focused his training on the road and not prepared for 'cross, he was happy how the race in the Belgian dunes went for him although he suffered one problem.
"The technical section in the sand was difficult for me." So the World Cup race became a game of catch-up game for Voss. "I always rode up to groups, but in the sand, I lost it again." He struggled especially on the downhill and sandy sections. Some riders opted to run down rather than ride.
Voss had the goal of a top 20 finish and was not far off in 24th and just 24 seconds behind Richard Groendendaal, who was in 20th. Voss started strongly and was riding in front of Groendendaal in the earlier part of the race. "I think a top 20 would have been possible, but the technique will come over time," he said.
Voss no longer can race in the U23 category. "Otherwise, I would not have chosen to race here," he said with a smile. His situation was unlike that of his compatriot Philipp Walsleben, who has dominated the U23 races this season, but opted to race with the elite men today. Voss praised the efforts by Walsleben. "I think he wanted to know how he compares to the men. He is the best German 'crosser we have at the moment and I think one day he will be atop the podium in the men's races."
Voss has one big goal for his winter schedule. "My goal is to become German champion." He said he won't be disappointed if his plan doesn't work out, but said it was a driving motivator for him to do well on January 11 in Strullendorf. "Next year I am racing for Milram, and it would be nice to have the German championship jersey then."
It is not yet clear if Voss will have to battle Walsleben, who could opt for the U23 race instead of the elite men's race. "If he races with the men, he is the rider to beat. You have to concentrate on him."
To get ready, Voss will mix up the 'cross with the road schedule again. After Sunday's Superprestige in Gieten, Netherlands, he will do a 'cross race in Frankfurt. "After that, there is the Milram training camp in Mallorca." That the temperatures on the Spanish island won't be preparing him for the 'cross races doesn't faze Voss. "I have to also look out for my road training."
After the training camp, he will fine tune his form and skills for the German championships. "Maybe on Christmas I will do the World Cup race [Zolder, Belgium - ed.]? Then a couple of races in Belgium, then Herford and Vechta in Germany and then Nationals."