Anna Kay on her season, a nasty stomach virus, the World Cup, gravels and travel between Belgium and England Cyclo-cross

Anna Kay on her season, a nasty stomach virus, the World Cup, gravels and travel between Belgium and England

Anna Kay on her season, a nasty stomach virus, the World Cup, gravels and travel between Belgium and England

For years, Anna Kay was known as one of the greatest cyclocross talents. And that was no surprise, since she finished third at the 2020 Under-23 World Championships, for example. Currently, the little lady from England occupies thirty-sixth place in the UCI rankings and has mostly had seasons with many ups and downs. IDLProcycling spoke about everything and anything with the good-humored rider from Gateshead.

Let's take a brief but powerful look back at some past achievements of Kay, who incidentally has a relationship with Alpecin-Deceuninck talent Jente Michels (winner of the most recent European cyclo-cross championship for underprivates) anno 2023. Kay has developed rapidly since her "official" cross entry in 2015, which manifested itself, for example, in a silver medal at the European Championships organized in Italy in 2019. Back then, Kay had to concede just 12 seconds to laureate Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, someone who is now part of the absolute world top. A year later Kay was also doing well, culminating in third place at the World Championships. In the following winters it was mostly top-ten finishes that dominated, with the occasional 'foreign' triumph (read: a cross in Great Britain, Ireland or Italy);

Kay competes in cyclocross World Cup and continues season after that

In general, I'm having a pretty good season, although I've had a stomach virus for a few weeks,' Kay analyzed her season so far with this website after the Exact Cross in Essen, where she crossed the finish line in seventh -. 'So that was down a little bit.But if I compare the season so far to last year, it's velemals better. That stomach virus really took its toll, though. For example, I only finished 20th in Dublin. I also lost some weight due to the illness and it is difficult to get that back.

So Kay recently went through a somewhat difficult time, although she certainly sees light at the end of the tunnel. 'I've had some nice peak results, like third place in the Koppenbergcross or seventh place at the European Cyclocross Championships. Those two do stand out in terms of highlights.' When we then ask the British rider in which races we can expect to see her in this season, she answers specifically. 'I'm probably going to ride mostly crosses with a lot of altitude difference. The hillier, the better for me. So I will definitely take that into account when putting together my program. Moreover, I prefer to ride as few double weekends as possible.'

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The cyclocross world championships organized in Tabór are also on Kay's (provisional) schedule: 'Normally I will indeed go to the world championships. That won't be my last race of the year. The intention is to continue racing until the end of February, especially since there are a number of fine races scheduled after the World Championships.' So are there any specific cross aspects Kay wants to improve on the most? 'With me it has always been that I can still gain a lot of strength. Moreover, it would help me if I dared a little more. Sometimes I'm still a little too scared in the cross country. Having a little extra confidence would help a lot in that respect, also to win as many positions as possible. On a technical level everything is going fine.

Will we see Kay more often in gravel competitions next year?

Last summer, Kay - like many other cross racers - gave an appearance in a number of road races. Although she enjoys doing it, road cycling is not really a discipline she wants to focus on in the coming years. 'Cyclocross is by far the most important thing for me. I will, of course, ride some road races, although that will be in the service of decyclocross,' she emphasizes. When we then ask her about her gravel ambitions - after all, in June she finished second in a Spanish round of the UCI Gravel World Series - Kay seems just a tad more enthusiastic. 'I participated in one gravel race this year. There was a hilly course in Spain, so that suited me! It went really well from the start, with second place as the final result. It was one of the best days I've ever had on a bike. If the opportunity arises, I would really like to do some more Gaangravelling.

Your boyfriend lives in Belgium, your parents reside in England. And that while you mainly finish your competitions in Belgium. Kay seems to be able to combine it all, although she says it is not always easy. This season I am more often in Flanders than in previous years. I think I'm in England about 30 percent of the time," she says. Sometimes it is difficult to travel back and forth between Great Britain and continental Europe. But mainly physically. Mentally it is not such a problem. It is very tiring to travel all the time. If you have bad flight times, your body is exhausted faster. And that's obviously not the best preparation for a race. But luckily it is not like that every weekend.

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