Valentin Scherz, winner of the Capital ‘Cross Classic and the MAC Elite Championship series, is an 18 year old fast man from Switzerland that spent the past couple months going toe-to-toe with many of the top U.S. riders. Scherz (Pro Cycles-Scott-Newwork) took some time for a short interview on how his Capital ‘Cross Classic race went down, racing in Europe compared to the U.S. and his plans for future visits to the U.S.
Thanks for reading.
How did the Capital ‘Cross Classic course conditions and race compare to a typical European race?
Scherz: The conditions here are more or less the same as in Europe. In my country, Switzerland, the courses are known to be very technical, hilly and difficult, as yesterday or in Southampton. In the rest of the Europe—Belgium, Holland, Italy, France—the fashion is now fast courses, more like the most of the races here. So the riders are more riding together and there is more suspense. Until two weeks ago, the weather conditions were warmer here than in Europe in October. But now, the weather is the same.
The level of the riders is my big deal now! I think I progressed a lot this year. But I don’t exactly know where my level will be in Europe. I think that in the UCI C2 or C1, the level here is the same as in Switzerland. And in the regional races, like yesterday, it’s the same as in the regional races in my region too. So the competition level is good enough here for me.
That was an impressive ride. How did you feel about your performance? Did the day play out the way you expected?
Scherz: Thanks. I was feeling pretty good yesterday during the race. My technique and my ability to ride in the slippery turns were good, which is really important for me. I tried yesterday to ride every lap better than the previous one. In fact, the day played out better than what I was expecting. I was expecting a hard race. I spent the two previous days visiting Washington, walked a lot, stood up for long stretches, etc. I did one week of rest without training two weeks ago and I did only slow rides last week.
On Sunday, it was difficult for me to get ready before the race, to go out of the car to warm up, check the course etc. The conditions were the worst it could be: not cold enough to have frozen ground, but enough to get your feet freezing in the really cold mud. So I was not feeling 100% on the start line. But everything always changes just after the start-shot: you become a warrior and give all that you have. And then you see how fit you really are! My feelings on the bike were great, and the legs were good.
The course was so fun in the mud, especially the downhills. It makes me think of the movie “Pure sweet hell,” which I have discovered here. In the beginning, I think it’s Barry Wicks who says about cylcocross, “because it’s hard, because it sucks the most … it’s why people do it.” It was so difficult, so crazy yesterday that I had a great time and I pushed myself one hundred percent.
So my plan was to take a rest time two weeks ago, and to build new fitness from that time for the end of the season. I should feel not so well, but I still feel in good fitness. The only unknown is what my fitness level will be versus the best riders after that break. It’s difficult for me to know now. But I’ll know next weekend for my first race in Switzerland. To conclude, I felt better than what I was expecting, but it’s still difficult to know where my level is because the best riders weren’t there yesterday.
Anything else you would like to add?
Scherz: Yes, here what’ I would like to say to the U.S. cyclocross people. I really want to thank each of you: promoters, riders, CX-fans, volunteers, etc… for your welcome, nice encouragement, cheers, words etc.. Each of you made my trip as fun as it could have been. You are all great, nice, welcoming people and I’m honored to have won your beautiful MAC series, because it’s definitely a good series, mixing good courses, nice atmospheres, good competitors and fun! Special thank’s for the Berson, Kelly, Gary, Wheels Work Revolution, and Ken Getchell who made this trip possible.
When will we next see you in the U.S.?
Scherz: I really hope that I’ll be able to ride again races in your area and see you again. Maybe if I get a contract for next year. I would like to bring friends of mine to do full Swiss podiums in the U.S.! Who knows?! In any case, I’m going to come here when I will be a masters racer, because you masters races are so cool! So many racers, nice contests. You have nothing to envy from Europe. Enjoy the cross.