"Mindfuck" according to Van Empel, Brand wants to "keep her collarbone intact": what's the deal with those beams? Cyclo-cross

"Mindfuck" according to Van Empel, Brand wants to "keep her collarbone intact": what's the deal with those beams?

"Mindfuck" according to Van Empel, Brand wants to "keep her collarbone intact": what's the deal with those beams?

Lucinda Brand was trailing Fem van Empel by 18 seconds during the World Cup in Antwerp. Spread out over six rounds, that comes down to three seconds per round - which is precisely the time Brand lost by not jumping over the beams, unlike Van Empel. The main characters discussed this with IDLProCycling.com after the race.

After the race, Brand acknowledged that the beams could indeed have made the difference in Antwerp, although she should certainly be congratulated for her second place. "Maybe I'm getting a little closer each time. This is a circuit where you always need some explosiveness, so it went well now. Normally, this course would suit Fem more, but I think we actually rode just as hard. The moment she had a gap, she could use the beams perfectly, which in my opinion made the difference," she summarized.

Van Empel confirmed her opponent's view, who - like last week in Herentals - certainly made things tough for her. "The obstacles just followed each other very quickly, but the beams were very favorably positioned on a straight stretch. I just tried to jump them and fortunately, it turned out well, but of course, it could have gone differently. Perhaps that made the biggest difference," said the Jumbo-Visma rider after the race.

"I think you could see that the gap remained the same and I made up for two seconds, but then there were those beams again. So we were riding at about the same pace, but that's where the difference was," explained Brand, who seemed to suggest that the difference between her and Van Empel was small. "I wish it was something minor, because then I would have mastered it quicker," she said with a smile.

Fire calls jumping over beams "strange sensation"

"The course designers obviously like it when you master such an obstacle, so they place it at a crucial point," says Brand. "I understand it from their perspective, but for me, it's a bit annoying. From a technical perspective, it's going very well, but I'm not getting high enough yet. I could try it here, but then you would have a great spectacle and I would have less of one. I need to stick to running for now."

Brand now lives in the Belgian woods to optimally prepare, but are those beams also part of her training? "I definitely practice them, but it's more a combination of technique and the mental aspect. When you ride towards it, it's a strange sensation: you think you can do it, but then at the last moment you're like, uhhh, maybe not..."

In the woods, she can easily jump over a few tree trunks, but according to Brand, that's something completely different. "Jumping over tree trunks I can do quite well, because it's quite different from a beam. I practice with those door clappers, which fall over if I touch them. I can adjust them to different heights, but the success rate isn't high enough yet to actually do it. Don't expect me to do that this season, I'd like to keep my collarbone intact."

lucinda brand van empel

Van Empel and De Knegt on difficulty of jumping over beams

Van Empel, who in the past didn't always jump, understands Brand. "I recognize that feeling of Lucinda's. Every time I approached, I was like: is this going to be okay? I hit them a few times, but now I've jumped five times and those are five practice runs. That's a nice bonus for all the other times," she observed.

"It's kind of a mindfuck, so to speak, when you drive towards it," she explains. "On the front, there are sponsors on it and on the back, it's just a black thick beam, so it looks higher than on television. Maybe it's just a mental thing, but you have to be able to maintain that height," says the lady who won all eleven of her races this season.

National coach Gerben de Knegt understands the struggles with the beams as well. "Jumping them can benefit you greatly, but it's true: if you learn it young, it's a lot easier. Lucinda started cyclo-cross at an older age, so she's not going to learn it as easily. But it is something you can learn, because Fem couldn't do it two years ago either," says the former cyclo-cross rider. "You just have to practice it a lot, but it's also a matter of ability. It should be like this: if you do it a thousand times, you might fall once."

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