Cant hits out at cyclo-cross part-timers

After dominating most of the cyclo-cross season, Sanne Cant's second place at the 2015 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tábor did not result in celebrations. The BKCP-Enertherm rider hit out at winner Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and former champion Marianne Vos for not being full-time cyclo-cross riders.

Cant rode her best-ever cyclo-cross campaign this season, tallying 19 wins including the Belgian and European championships, two World Cup rounds and the overall World Cup. As a consequence Cant was the number one in the UCI-ranking by a huge margin. Finishing as runner-up behind Ferrand-Prévot wasn’t exactly the icing on the cake she hoped for. Cant was unable to shake off the French champion and was beaten by her in the sprint. After the finish she burst in tears. On the podium and at the post-race press conference she didn’t hide her disappointment.

“I knew she would be hard to beat in the sprint, that she won the road world championships in the sprint, but at some point you’re hoping for more,” Cant said. “I was focusing on Vos and Nash for too long but when I realized they weren't having their best day I closed the gap to Ferrand-Prévot. On the climb after the barriers I felt really strong.”

According to Cant, the presence of the road World Champion isn’t to be considered an added value for women’s cyclo-cross. Cant feels that Ferrand-Prévot's short cyclo-cross campaign allows her to be more fresh at the World Championships. The new cyclo-cross world champion isn’t the only rider in this situation. Marianne Vos rides more or less the same cyclo-cross season, while Eva Lechner combines cyclo-cross with a high-level mountain bike campaign.

“I ride a full cyclo-cross season and have many more races in my legs than those other women. They are more fresh than me. It’s frustrating to lose the world title in the sprint from someone who rides fewer cyclo-cross races than I do. I recognize the qualities of Nash, Vos and Ferrand-Prévot but Pauline and Marianne start their 'cross campaign in December and focus on the World Championships. I can’t afford to skip ten races to be fresh for the World Championships. I have to be up there all season long. Then it’s hard to fight up against women who race half the season. That’s easier than performing all season long. That’s a bit of a blow now,” Cant said.

Cant compared the campaign of Ferrand-Prevot to the one of Zdenek Stybar in the Elite Men's category.

“I don’t think the men were happy to see a fresh Zdenek Stybar racing along only one race each season,” Cant said.

Stybar is the triple cyclo-cross World champion of 2010, 2011 and 2014. Back in 2011 the Czech rider started switching his focus from cyclo-cross to the road. After being a full time cyclo-cross rider he became a road cyclist with a short 'cross campaign which included the World Championships. Lars Boom (Astana) was in a similar situation. He was cyclo-cross World Champion in 2008. He switched to the road after the 2008-2009 season but kept taking part in some cyclo-cross races including his national championships for a few years.

Despite all the disappointment Cant was able to look back on her season and realize she made a big step forward. It’s clear she will have many more chances to win the world title in the coming years.

“I’ve got a good season behind me. I won the World Cup, the Belgian and European championships and end the cyclo-cross season as the world’s number one. So, from the non-occasional riders I was probably the best. But for now, that’s not much of a consolation for me. I hope that during the next few years I can rise to the level that allows me to win the World Championships after a full cyclo-cross season. There will be more chances but this was a missed one.”

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