U23 World Championship: Top favorite Del Grosso doesn't mind bit of pressure; Haverdings learns a lot from teammate Ronhaar Cycling

U23 World Championship: Top favorite Del Grosso doesn't mind bit of pressure; Haverdings learns a lot from teammate Ronhaar

U23 World Championship: Top favorite Del Grosso doesn't mind bit of pressure; Haverdings learns a lot from teammate Ronhaar

On Saturday, February 3, at 12:35 p.m., the starting gun will be fired in Tábor, Czech Republic, for the Men's Under-23 World Cyclocross Championships. The top favorite is Dutchman Tibor del Grosso, who has clinched victory in nearly every World Cup event. In an exclusive interview with IDLProCycling.com after the cross in Hoogerheide, the 20-year-old Alpecin-Deceuninck talent shared his thoughts. Additionally, a day earlier in Hamme, we spoke with David Haverdings, who could be considered a formidable outsider.

"This is one of my very best victories, especially because it's in my own country," remarked Del Grosso, who led from start to finish in Hoogerheide. "That is extra special, especially with a substantial audience. I consider it an impressive victory since I took the lead from the first lap." With such a notable triumph, the rider from Drenthe heads to Tábor as a top favorite, bolstered by his remarkable World Cup results. "Indeed, I secured victories in four out of the five races and clinched the overall classification. However, I still evaluate my season primarily based on the World Cup. Winning the World Cup title would undoubtedly be a notable addition to my record. On the other hand, a career doesn't solely hinge on a U23 world title."

Del Grosso doesn't mind a bit of pressure and looks to Verstrynge and Michels

So, is Del Grosso entering the battle for the rainbow jersey with a lot of extra pressure? It doesn't seem to be too bad. "In the last World Cups, I was always the top favorite, so I know how to deal with that. And a little pressure never hurts," he says with a laugh. Regarding the course in North Brabant, he couldn't provide many details. "I can't say much about it yet. At the Czech championships, it was pretty fast. We'll have to wait and see the weather conditions." The nearly three-kilometer course includes a beam section, something that suits Del Grosso. "That in itself gives me confidence, although I think my competitors are also handling the obstacles quite well.

Speaking of his competitors, who does Del Grosso see as his biggest opponents? "I think Emiel (Verstrynge) is my biggest competitor, but also someone like Jente (Michels) is always good. Look at the last few weeks; Rémi Lelandais is also riding very strong." Haverdings is indeed mostly seen as a shadow favorite, partly due to a changeable season. "I've experienced a changeable season. Of course, I did have two beautiful victories," he refers to the triumphs at the Koppenberg and in Herentals. "There were some very good races, but also some really bad ones. All in all, I'm pretty satisfied with what I showed.

According to the 19-year-old Haverdings, his goal at the world championships is to secure a top-ten finish. "I like the course in Tábor. I've ridden there twice already, with good results both times. So, hopefully, I'll have a strong performance again this year. A top-ten finish would be nice. That's what I'm aiming for. Suppose I finish third, have bad luck, and then finish ninth, of course, I'm not satisfied. But regardless of such things, a top-ten place is good." Indeed, looking at the rest of the season, winning the X2O classification for U23s is the most important thing for the man from Zuidlaren. "Winning the X2O classification is indeed the most important thing for me this season. For the rest, I just want to finish as high as possible in the other races."

Haverdings and Ronhaar are good friends

Moreover, Haverdings reveals that his preparation for this cyclocross season was not ideal. He, therefore, hopes that the upcoming summer will be more successful for him. "I'm looking forward to having a good summer, so I can perform exceptionally well next season. The preparation for this season was a bit haphazard, as reflected in the variable results. In the coming summer, I aim to establish more consistency. Last summer started well, but then I had a prolonged period off. It was a cycle of training, taking breaks, training, and taking breaks. Then the season resumed. Mentally and physically, it wasn't ideal. I also hope to be able to accelerate more frequently, which, of course, goes hand in hand with racing. Improving a bit allows for more comfort in the race. It's all interconnected, and having good overall condition is crucial."

Finally, Haverdings rides with Baloise Trek Lions, the successful cyclocross team led by Sven Nys. Pim Ronhaar, in particular, serves as a role model for Haverdings. "If you look at Pim, you'll see that last year he had a variable summer. In contrast, last summer was flawless from start to finish. He handled everything without any issues, and his results this season reflect that. He is a great example for me, and I get along very well with him. We talk every day and even go on winter sports together after the season. I can relate to him," he expresses positively. The team atmosphere is excellent. "Pim and I were in a Spanish hotel with Lars (Van der Haar) and Joris (Nieuwenhuis) around the cross country in Benidorm. We trained together really well and shared many laughs. Those positive experiences weren't exaggerated. When the team clicks, it contributes to our success. We make each other better, and if it happens in a genuinely enjoyable way, it's perfect."

Place comments



More comments

You are currently seeing only the comments you are notified about, if you want to see all comments from this post, click the button below.

Show all comments

More Cycling News