Wichman closes out career with four cross world title

Joost Wichman (Rose Vaujany) closed out a successful career this weekend by winning his first four cross world championships title.

"It has been a long time coming, but I finally got it now," said Wichman. "Before the race, I talked to [teammate] Katy [Curd] because she was very nervous. I told her that she only could control her own racing and that she did not have control of other the riders and other factors like the weather. It's no use getting stressed about how fast someone else is or if it's gonna rain or not, because this is something you do not have control of."

"After I did this pep talk, I started thinking about myself, that this is actually true... and this gave me a very strong and confident feeling. Besides this, I knew it was going to be my last four cross world championships. Before the race, I wrote on the back of my number plate 'LAST CHANCE', and my trainer wrote me a text: 'Do not screw this up!'. That was the only thing that was on my mind, I did not want to cross the finish line with the feeling 'what if'. Also if I did not win, I wanted to say to myself that I gave it my all.

The 35-year-old Dutch rider outsmarted his opponents in a thrilling finale in Leogang, Austria on Saturday. Wichman rode a tactical ride and waited for his opportunity. After the first corner, he was still last, but he pushed into second place after Tomas Slavik and Michael Mechura tangled up. His ultimate attack, at the end of the last straight, was just enough to take the lead and cross the line in first position. Mechura from the Czech Republic was second, Frenchman Quentin Derbier was third.

The world title is the highlight of Wichman's career. In 2011, he crashed while leading the world championships and left with a disappointing bronze medal. This year, he rode fewer races, due to injuries and the combination with his position as team manager of the Rose Vaujany Mountain Bike Team, but he came into the Worlds fresher than usual.

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