Pro athletes are only human, too. Most of the time, they get to realize this when it is least convenient. Marathon mountain biker Søren Nissen caught an infection shortly before two of his 2018 season’s highlights: the European Championship in Italy and Roc d’Ardenne, a race of UCI world series in Belgium. After winning the cyclo-cross national title in his adopted home country of Luxembourg, he traveled to Italy with high expectations of himself. There, he did not even make it to the start line on STEVENS Sonora SL Di2 due to gastrointestinal problems which were so bad that he left Italy again before the race.
There was not much time for recovery, though, if he wanted to start at the second race that was marked “important“ in his race calendar: already one week later, Roc d’Ardenne took place, an event of UCI world series in Belgium that Nissen had already won three times. “It was only just before the weekend that I finally felt better and I decided to give it a try“, recounts the Dane with Luxembourg citizenship. A bold plan as a steep climb awaits the riders already on the first two kilometers of this race that is also part of the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race course, before the track leads the riders into the woods. Besides this, competition was fierce so that Nissen would quite certainly have no chance to catch his breath during the race.
“Riders climbed the first ascents at high speed already, after 15 km there were only ten of us left at the front“, recalls Nissen and says that he felt better after half of the race was ridden: „I knew that I had to attack now in order to finish on a good position.“ But he had not yet regained his full strength after the infection and had to let go Simon Stiebjahn and Robbert de Nijs 30 km before the finish. Nevertheless: third place. “Directly after the race I was a bit angry because the gap between me and the two riders in front of me was not so big. But sometimes you just have to be happy with what you get“, summarizes Søren Nissen and looks ahead … to the next big event on his race schedule.
He will be racing “Belgian Mountain Challenge“ from May 10 to 13, the biggest stage race in the Benelux region – where he will encounter cross country superstar Mathieu Van der Poel. Nissen promised him a “tough fight for victory“ after finishing second behind the Dutchman in past year’s edition.