Twenty-five time Luxembourgish national champion Christine Majerus is preparing herself for a “completely different” World championships experience in Bieles, Luxembourg on Saturday. The official ambassador to Bieles 2017 will enjoy the home soil advantage that comes along with the first home World Championships of her decade-long career. And along with that home soil advantage, there is home soil pressure.
“Every other Worlds I’ve raced is the big event at the end of the season,” said Majerus. “It’s always more nerve-wracking than other races, but this one feels different. There’s more press requests, more people asking me questions, more of everything.
“I can really feel in the last week that people are getting excited,” Majerus added. “They write me emails and texts, and I know they want to give me good feelings with their support. I think they don’t realise that it’s also making me more stressed. There’s so many people standing behind me and behind the race. I hope on Saturday and Sunday those people that are writing will also be out to cheer. That’s the most important thing.”
In her last two UCI Cyclocross World Championship appearances, Majerus has cracked the top ten. She recorded back-to-back ninth place finishes in Tabor (2015) and Zolder (2016).
“I will be happy if I improve my previous result. That’s what I’ve always said. That’s top nine. If I can do better than that, I’m happy,” said Majerus. “I know I have done everything I could in the training. If I also do everything I can on the day itself, that’s also satisfying. If everything goes perfectly, I think I can do more than improve.”
It’s not difficult to hear what she doesn’t say in what she has said. Majerus has every reason to be ambitious as she readies to race a World Championships on home soil following her most successful season to date.
Her build-up to Bieles has been nearly flawless. She recorded a career best result, cracking the top five at a World Cup for the first time in Namur. She opened the new year with five straight wins including her eighth straight cyclocross national title and a victory in Otegem, the latter particularly notable because the field included World Cup overall winner Sophie de Boer (Breepark)) and world champion Thalita de Jong (Lares-Waowdeals)
“The thing is that I really planned my winter so differently than I have in the years before,” said Majerus. “The years before, I did a small November and December block and then three World Cups in January. This year I did nearly a whole winter – I say ‘nearly’ because I had to go to Qatar, which cut off a little bit, but was worth it to take the team time trial title.
“It shows that if you do a whole winter and do all the ‘cross races, you will have progress,” Majerus added. “I still believe the best training is the races. If you do it every weekend, you’ll see steady progression.”
Her main aim for the 2016/2017 season was to consistently record top ten finishes at World Cups. She raced five of eight races in the World Cup series, sitting out the two American World Cups in September and the World Cup in Rome earlier this month.
“The first two were not good,” Majerus said. “Valkenburg, the timing wasn’t good. I hadn’t recovered from Qatar and in Zeven I had a bad day. But in Namur it was a nearly perfect ride, and in Zolder and Hoogerheide, which are not good laps for me, I still managed a top ten. It shows that I’ve done nearly everything right, and I hope I can keep that shape for Saturday.
“I have no regrets about how I planned and trained and raced,” Majerus added. “I can feel good about how we worked towards this goal. It was intense, with my little team. It was a lot of work, but without the team I could not have done it. It’s nice that it worked out the way it has.”
Her “little team” includes her soigneur, Marco, her mechanic Jean-Claude and Fabienne, a jack (or jill) of all trades who does a bit of everything.
“We all know each other really well,” said Majerus. “They know how I work. Sometimes when it’s only me, I’m hard to work with, I think. I want things done just the way they should be, and I’m direct about it. I don’t want to lose time talking around things or they’ll never happen. The three understand me so well by now that there isn’t much to be said. I’m really proud of we work together.”
Although Majerus was consulted during the construction of the lap in Bieles, she maintains her input did not result in a lap that favours her strengths, and she and her "little team" will have their work cut out for them come Saturday. She prefers a hard, slow slog with vertical gain and running over a fast, zippy lap.
“It’s hard to say exactly what to expect for the lap for Worlds because there’s snow right now, and that makes it pretty fast,” said Majerus. “The snow thing is good because it makes it less fast than it would be if were dry and without snow, but it’s not something that fully plays to me. I have hope that it will change before Saturday because higher temperatures are coming, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to melt everything away and change it to mud. I’ll have to see on race day.
“It’s a hard lap with small punchy climbs, so it’s not bad for me,” she added. “It would just be better if it were melting. I cannot change the lap, and I cannot change the weather. I have to deal with it whatever it is. I’m prepared mentally and physically to race on lap that isn’t good for me, and if it melts and it is good for me, that will be a nice surprise.”
- Visit the official race website
- Bookmark this UCI YouTube page to watch Majerus (and Brammeier) in action on Saturday
- Watch the 2017 UCI Cyclocross World Championships teaser
- Read this full-length UCI feature “Bieles course presented by Christine Majerus”
- Buy a “Cross Your Heart Out” tee designed by Majerus and Endurance Conspiracy to benefit Foundation Kim Kirchen
- Follow on social media using #Bieles2017 hashtag