SD Worx aims to follow the Van Empel route with Blanka Vas: "Maybe she will be a bit fresher at the World Championships than the rest" Cyclo-cross

SD Worx aims to follow the Van Empel route with Blanka Vas: "Maybe she will be a bit fresher at the World Championships than the rest"

SD Worx aims to follow the Van Empel route with Blanka Vas: "Maybe she will be a bit fresher at the World Championships than the rest"

While the Netherlands boasts talents like Fem van Empel, Puck Pieterse, and Shirin van Anrooij in cyclo-cross, there is another top talent taking the world by storm with a combination of disciplines. Kata Blanka Vas, now 22 years old, is the great hope for the future at SD Worx. spoke with her coach Lars Boom following her return to cyclo-cross in Kortrijk.

Boom, a cyclo-cross legend himself, guides Vas in the field. The Hungarian balances a busy schedule with road cycling, cyclo-cross, and mountain biking, excelling on all three types of bikes. Last year in cyclo-cross - in her first full winter among elite women - she won two significant races in Ardooie and Woerden. On the road, she won a stage in the Giro d'Italia Donne last summer, and in mountain biking, she finished fifth at the U23 World Championships.

A jack-of-all-trades, who definitely does need a setback. Vas's progress was hindered by a training accident in October that resulted in a broken collarbone. As a result, she only started her second cyclo-cross race of the season last Saturday in Kortrijk. Following her victory in Oisterwijk in October, she now finished seventh. "The most important thing is to gain rhythm by racing every weekend so that the body gets used to this effort again. It’s challenging coming back after being out for so long, so this was to be expected," Boom told this website.

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Kata Blanka Vas will continue to combine disciplines

Normally, Vas doesn't need many races to regain her form, so Boom and SD Worx are confident about the rest of the season. "We train together, so we can closely monitor how she progresses. Training is different from going all out for fifty minutes in cyclo-cross. Her level is really good, but it needs to improve in the coming weeks, given the level in cyclo-cross is incredibly high. With her injury, it's hard to predict what she can achieve, as we don’t know how her body will respond in the coming period. We hope that she might benefit from this period and be a bit fresher than the other girls at the World Championships. We are hopeful for a strong second part of her cyclo-cross season."

Afterward, the focus will shift back to road racing, where Vas has become a crucial part of the dominant women's team at SD Worx. "We're trying to broaden her base on the road in the summer, which will only benefit her in cyclo-cross. We see it as a win-win situation, where we hope she can always continue this combination," says Boom, who doesn't see the combination of disciplines as a problem. "On the road, she already secured a significant victory in the Giro, in a very challenging stage. She is really growing as a person, but of course, she is still young."

Anyone who has seen Vas in interviews over the past few years couldn't help but smile. The Hungarian always stuttered a few words in English before quickly walking away. Boom notices a change in her as well. "She was always very shy, never sharing what she thought or wanted. That's starting to change now, where she has her own opinion which she should try to express. That's very good for an athlete, and it's nice to work with her. We have full confidence in her; otherwise, she wouldn't be riding with us. She's a young athlete, just starting out in life. She needs to gain a little more experience."

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