The reigning Australian women's national cyclo-cross champion finds herself with two podium finishes in Belgium this past weekend. Lisa Jacobs took a first-place finish at the Destelbergen Cyclo-cross (CX) on Saturday and a second at the Flemish Cross-Cup in Assenede the following day, all in preparation for her Cyclo-cross World Championship debut this weekend in the village of Hoogerheide.
Cyclingnews caught up with Jacobs' coach Donna Rae-Szalinski, who says while Jacobs' enjoys the fun side of the sport, she takes her role as national champion seriously and is not surprised by her recent success.
"Lisa is an elite cyclist – period," said the Victorian Institute of Sport coach, who has guided Jacobs from the start of her professional cycling career. "She has great physiology and attributes. She couldn't keep doing road cycling at the moment due to other commitments in her, life so I am not actually surprised that she is doing very well in Cyclo-cross."
Jacobs, fresh from capturing the KOM jersey in the mountain points classification at the Australian women's Road Race National Championships, captured the inaugural national cyclo-cross series title in 2012 when she convinced her VIS-sponsored Apollo Bikes to loan her a cyclo-cross bike the night before the opening round of six stage races.
World Championships debut
While excited at the prospect of competing against the world's best cyclo-cross riders, Jacobs, still a relative newcomer to the sport, holds no illusions of grandeur for a possible podium finish, but feels experience will be the biggest reward this year.
"This not the first time we sent a rider to the CX world champs, but it is the first time we sent a team," she said. "We don't have performance-based expectations on wining world champs, but we are treating it as a big step forward for CX racing, and maybe it will get people in Australia more involved in this great sport.
"It is kind of a pioneering team I guess."
Whether Jacobs will continue her cyclo-cross adventure or succumb to an increasing workload and career commitments could solely depend on her performance in Hoogerheide.
"It is pretty early to make a call about next year," she said. "I will see how I get through this year first and see how I measure up against the best in the world.
"It's a discipline I really enjoy and one that I feel I can continually improve, and as long as I do both then I see no reason why I wouldn't want to be here again next year."