Photo: Ethan Glading / USA Cycling
It's been a bit more than a month since Gage Hecht zipped up his elite men's Cyclocross National Championship jersey in Tacoma, Washington, but he hasn't slowed down a bit. He went straight to Europe to completely immerse himself in the racing scene there in preparation for the UCI World Championships in Switzerland. The event takes place this coming weekend and Gage has been doing everything he can to be on his best form on race day.
We checked in with Gage and asked a few questions about his prep for the big day!
After winning US Nationals where did you go?
After US Nationals, I packed up my things and headed to the USA Cycling house in Sittard, The Netherlands for the Christmas block of racing. This is a time when one can race nearly every day between Christmas and New Years Day. It’s really special to be there for this week.
Does it take you long to adjust to training and racing?
Over the years of international travel, I have developed a routine that has made adjusting to the time change a little easier. It still can be a bit difficult, but it’s manageable. I love the training around Sittard and have gotten to know he roads well, so it’s always nice to be back riding here. However, for some reason it always take me a few races before I can get back into a rhythm of the speed and intensity of the fast paced races in Europe.
How was Christmas week in Europe for you?
With all the racing it gets quite hectic during the holiday week. We’re racing almost every other day. In fact, we even pre-rode the Zolder World Cup course on Christmas Day, Despite this we still found some ways to fit a few Christmas festivities into the mix. Everyone at the USA Cycling house did get to take part in some Catalonian Christmas traditions which was really fun. Luis, our Spanish mechanic, brought his Tío log from home. Google it.
The roughest part of the week for me was just not having the day I wanted at Zolder. It certainly wasn’t my best day.
Why did you go to Spain to train? Where did you stay?
We went to Spain to take advantage of the warmer weather and much more varied road profiles. We stayed in downtown Málaga. It’s a great place to rebuild a lot of the core fitness that can slip due to all the hard racing in December. The views of the coast are incredible and there is an awesome climb just out of town. Overall it was a stellar week of training. The only crazy part was getting out of town the last day. We had to rent a 19 passenger sprinter with a trailer to get all of our bikes and luggage to the airport. The street outside our apartments was a one-way street, like all of the streets in the city. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to park the van so the driver just left it in the middle of the street while we loaded up. Needless to say, it caused a huge traffic jam. Cars began trying to get around the van on the sidewalk. It was quite funny. We got everything to the airport in one trip though!
After Spain you raced the World Cup in Nommay, France. How did that go?
Nommay was good. I picked a bad spot on the start grid and got pinched out in the first turn. Later on in the lap I got in a tangle and had to switch bikes. After that lap, I found a good rhythm and fought back to 12th. The conditions were some of my favorite: mud with a sheet of ice under the ruts. Overall I felt good about the race and how my legs felt.
Then you raced in Hoogerheide, The Netherland for the final World Cup. Were you still feeling good?
Hoogerheide went well, too. I was 13th and less than 40 sec away from the podium. That’s till quite a bit do time, but I know I can do better when it’s muddy. I am surely hoping for some of that on the Worlds course in Switzerland this coming weekend. Fingers crossed.
Have you raced the Worlds track in Switzerland before?
No. No one has! To my knowledge this is the first race ever to be held here.
What are your goals at Worlds?
I hope to have a clean race with as few mistakes as possible. A little mud would be nice. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I would love to be on the podium, but a realistic and attainable goal is to finish inside the top ten this year. I’ve been close and I think I can end up there on a good day.
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Team Schedule (Tentative)
Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY
Jingle Cross World Cup – Iowa City, IA
Trek CXC World Cup – Waterloo, WI
Fayettecross - Fayetteville Arkansas
US Open of Cyclocross – Boulder, CO
Cincinnati UCI Cyclocross - Cincinnati. OH
Silver Goose - Midland, ON
Pan Am Games - Midland, ON
Ruts N Guts CX – Broken Arrow, OK
USA National Championships – Tacoma, WA
UCI World Championships – Dubendorf, CH