Lars Forster on his love for Cyclo-cross and the upcoming season9. November 2017 — Melanie Leveau — MTB Team
Multiple Swiss national champion Lars Forster kicks off his cyclo-cross season this weekend at the Flückiger Cross. His 2017-2018 winter calendar is filled with a number of other cyclo-cross races. We caught up with him to talk about the discipline and his goals for the season.
You’ve decided to race an (almost) full cyclo-cross 2017-2018 season. What does your programme look like?
I will start racing at the beginning of November. From then on, I’ll race all events in Switzerland as well as the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Namur, Belgium, until the Swiss National Championships at the beginning of January. After that, I hope I can go on and race the World Cup in Nommay, France as well as the World Championships in the Netherlands. All in all, it should be three months of racing which is way more than last year when I was injured and couldn’t start before December.
Do you consider cyclo-cross as a good preparation for the MTB season or do you actually do it for the love of it?
Cyclo-cross is a great winter activity and a good way for me to prepare for the MTB season. It is even more the case this year with the first round of the 2018 MTB World Cup taking place mid-March. There are only five weeks between the cyclo-cross World Champs and the MTB World Cup so it should play in my favor in Stellenbosch, South Africa. But cyclo-cross is more than just a good way to prepare for the MTB season. I love the sport and I’m always excited to take part in cyclo-cross races.
What do you actually love about cyclo-cross?
I love to race in the mud and in the winter. Conditions are hard and there is no time to think too much about tactics; you have to give everything you have for one hour. I love that!
Cyclo-cross is the discipline where I was the most successful as a young rider (he was Junior crowned European Champion, multiple times Swiss National Champion and won a World Cup in the Junior category) so it will always be a discipline dear to my heart. I also love the atmosphere at cross events, the short tracks that make it easy and exciting for spectators to watch.
How different are MTB and cyclo-cross racing and how much work is it to switch from one discipline to the other?
The riding is different; cornering and accelerating especially. The fit on the bike is also very different and it usually takes me about three weeks to get used to the bike. A friend of mine built a cyclo-cross loop in a forest a few minutes from my home so I spend quite some time there training running up stairs, shouldering the bike, cornering, bonny hopping planks, etc. Many other Swiss cross riders like Marcel Wildhaber, Simon Zahner and Nicola Rohrbach train there too so it’s a good motivation and a great way to improve.
In term of training, my winter programme is very similar to what I do in the summer. Training for an hour or an hour and a half isn’t that different.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
The Swiss National Championships are my main goal. I want to get the jersey back! Last year was such a disappointment… (he finished second behind Julien Taramarcaz).
I also want to do well at World Cups and at World Championships but I have no reference from last year. I was injured and didn’t take part to any international races so it’s hard for me to know how I can perform at this level.
Cyclo-cross found a second wind in Switzerland thanks to the EKZ CrossTour; the 2020 World Championships will happen near Zürich and it is very likely that a World Cup will take place in Bern in 2018. Does it mean you’ll focus more on cyclo-cross in the future?
It’s great to see how well cyclo-cross is doing at the moment and I really hope it goes on this way. The young and amateur categories are very popular and crowds are getting bigger, it’s a good sign!
For my part and despite how much I love cyclo-cross, mountain biking remains my priority. 2018 and 2020 are two important years with the World Championships in Lenzerheide and the Olympics in Tokyo.
But I’ll always find a way to race my cross bike in the winter! (laughs)