Van Anrooij stumbles through the first weeks of cyclo-cross: "I think the adrenaline takes away the pain" Cyclo-cross

Van Anrooij stumbles through the first weeks of cyclo-cross: "I think the adrenaline takes away the pain"

Van Anrooij stumbles through the first weeks of cyclo-cross: "I think the adrenaline takes away the pain"

In the Exact Cross of Mol, Shirin van Anrooij had to settle for second place, with only her compatriot and teammate Lucinda Brand ahead of her. This is undoubtedly a good result, especially considering that a while back, the Dutch native had not touched her cyclo-cross bike for about seven weeks.

Ninth in Boom (on December 2nd), fifth in Flamanville (on December 3rd) and fourteenth in Namur (on December 17th). Those were Van Anrooij's most recent cyclo-cross results before the Zilvermeer race. The 21-year-old Baloise Trek Lions rider took a break after the race in Flamanville for a training camp with her team, returning to competition on the well-known Citadel course. However, she had a fall there, resulting in a modest fourteenth place. "I did indeed fall in Namur, although the pain from that crash is actually not too bad. Last Wednesday, I fell again during training, and that one bothered me a bit more," she explained to before the race.

She performed well in the sandy cross in Mol, securing a commendable second place. "I'm really looking forward to racing here. I think adrenaline helps alleviate the pain, which is usually the case. The faster you ride, the more your legs start to hurt. I keep that in mind. Hopefully, it all goes well," the sand specialist said near her camper as she looked ahead to the race.

Van Anrooij needs to get back into the groove

When her slightly less favorable results are brought up, which we also discussed with the cheerful rider after the race in Boom, she provides a clear explanation. "I haven't touched my cyclo-cross bike for seven weeks, not at all. That's obviously a long time. During the training camp in Spain, my focus was solely on the road. I didn't bring my cyclo-cross bike with me. That's probably why I need to get back into the groove," she openly acknowledges the reason.

Has cyclo-cross taken a back seat then, with road cycling being a higher priority? "Absolutely not," she responds when asked. "Otherwise, I wouldn't be here and racing throughout the entire Christmas period. I genuinely enjoy it. But I just need to do less cyclo-cross, simply because I can't compete in races for twelve months straight. So, it's certainly not that cyclo-cross has become less important, and that's why I'm racing less."

Will Van Anrooij work as a (sports) psychologist after her cycling career?

Like practically every cyclo-cross rider, the Christmas period is an incredibly busy time for Van Anrooij, who, according to Zoe Bäckstedt, is considered the top favorite at the U23 Cyclocross World Championships. "In principle, I race every other day. So, I end up with quite a number of races. It's necessary too because otherwise, I never really get that cyclo-cross feeling back. Meanwhile, the other ladies have had that back for a long time," she says, emphasizing once again that her high ambitions in cyclo-cross are definitely present.

Finally, it's known that Van Anrooij is quite the busy bee. Besides building her career as a top athlete, she has also started her education. Specifically, she is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Maastricht University, back home in the Netherlands. "I'm taking the course online," she begins her plan of action. "Sometimes I dedicate more time to it, other times a bit less. I've told myself that if it takes me a few more years, it's not a problem. Four, five or six years, it doesn't really matter in principle. As long as I'm cycling, I won't need my degree. And I have no plans to stop racing in the short term. It's really more about having something to do alongside cycling. I definitely don't put pressure on myself to complete it within a certain timeframe."

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