Rochette dreaming of rainbows at cyclo-cross Worlds

RIJKEVORSEL BELGIUM NOVEMBER 22 Maghalie Rochette of Canada and Team SpecializedFeedback Sports during the 9th Superprestige Merksplas 2020 Women Elite SuperprestigeCX SPMerksplas CX on November 22 2020 in Rijkevorsel Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Maghalie Rochette racing in the Superprestige Merksplas (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

It's just days before the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships kicks off and Canadian Maghalie Rochette is getting restless in her Arkansas rental. Rochette, along with her husband David and dog Mia, have been in Arkansas for three weeks of training and isolation, and she's raring to go.

"I had a big block of training, rest and isolating, and I look forward to going really hard. I actually can't wait to be in that zone where I'm really suffering and enjoying it and wanting to push more," the two-time Pan American champion told Cyclingnews over a video chat.

Like her fellow North American, Clara Honsinger, Rochette decided to forgo the last rounds of the World Cup in favour of getting stateside early, avoiding any COVID-19 travel complications and letting her body recover from jetlag.

For the last three weeks, the 28-year-old from Quebec has been exploring Arkansas' famed gravel roads and trails, and Rochette raved about the road riding. She even had a chance to train on the race course. But with the need to isolate and avoid exposure all the while, she's ready for race day to arrive and see her friends and family. While not American, these championships feel like a home race for Rochette.

"The US scene of cyclo-cross is the community I grew up racing with. Those are the people that I know. And in a field where there are a lot of Europeans, I think that maybe the crowds will also cheer for me because they know me and I'm part of that same community," she said. "In that way, I feel I have the home-court advantage but without any of the pressure."

Rochette is coming off a season in which she had her best and most consistent European results yet, including podium finishes at World Cups Besançon and Val di Sole.

"There were some disappointments for sure, but the consistency is something I'm super happy about, and it also gives me confidence that I can be at the top, and more than once," she said. 

She'd even go so far as saying it was a bit of a breakthrough season, and not just because of the results.

"We finally figured out how to be comfortable in Europe. Whether you love it or not, if you want to succeed, you have to be in Europe, and as much as I enjoyed the races, I always struggled with everything around it. This year, we finally managed to be comfortable and actually enjoy our time there," she revealed.

So with a handful of career-best results and plenty of confidence, Rochette goes into Saturday's race to chase the rainbow, and not just for herself.

"I absolutely am chasing the rainbow. There's never been a Canadian on any podium of any Cyclo-cross World Championships and Canada is not known to be a cyclo-cross nation," she stated.

And despite having a contingent of no fewer than 26 riders in Fayetteville, Rochette said support from their Federation, at least for her, was non-existent.

"For me, if I'm able to achieve [a podium finish] that would mean a lot to me because hopefully, it can show the other Canadian riders that if cyclo-cross is what they want to pursue, there's a way to do it," she said.

"I absolutely know I'm not a favourite going into the race. But I'm heading into this race knowing that [my husband and I] have done everything we could to be at our best. We left no stone unturned so now all I have to do is do my best on the day. And I really look forward to it."

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