Emma Silversides (above left with Eddy Merckx) is a professional cyclist for the Lotto Belisol team and is based in Belgium. Here she shares her insight into the continental women’s scene.
The road season is drawing to a close now; cyclo-cross occupied the prime TV spot here at the weekend as Niels Albert, Belgian’s favourite world champion, won in Neerpelt. Cyclo-cross here is huge and certainly worth going to see if you are in Belgium when one is on.
The kermis races are becoming rather thin on the ground now in terms of riders. The last big one for the women was on Saturday taking in the Kluisberg several times. Lizzie [Armitstead] showed herself well taking second behind Emma Johansson.
Many of the big names were busy in Tuscany finalising their preparations for the Worlds with a testing UCI stage race. It is all calm now as the build up to the ‘big one’ begins.
For me, the season is over. I pushed my body hard in Ardèche when it was trying hard to recover from the car accident, now I am paying for that despite not performing to anywhere near my full potential at the event. I have ridden my bike solely for pleasure this week, enjoying the late summer sun and the beautiful autumn colours.
I chose to utilise my free time for some constructive action on the art front! A trip to the house of Eric Vanderaerden in the hope of increasing my collection of signed work. What a great guy; so friendly and welcoming. I had met him briefly two years ago as he was DS with DFL-Cyclingnews.
However, I was surprised when he opened the door; the curls were well gone and he was extremely trim! There is a huge fascination with ex-pros here and I find it so refreshing to think that he welcomed me into his house and chatted so freely with me. The sport of cycling is as big here as football is in England. So imagine being welcomed into the house of Bobby Charlton or Gary Lineker, enjoying a good old natter and having a painting signed!
I have been busy trying to find an accommodation solution for the winter and indeed next year. I am thankful that I can converse in Flemish well enough now to make necessary enquiries; I have one or two promising options so have reason to be optimistic. I will take October in England to catch up with family and friends. This time is precious since during the season it is not possible to return home with a heavy race schedule. It’s also great to have change of scenery and be away from everything that is associated with racing for a good period.
I will be watching the women’s road race on Sunday morning, it promises to be even better than last year, I am sure! (Of course I will watch the men as well, who wouldn’t?!)