Guest Blog: Margriet Kloppenburg Tells Why Cyclo-Cross Over Road
I’ve been sitting on this guest blog for a while now and with the Cycle-cross World Championships being run and won in Tabor, Czech Republic today I couldn’t think of a better time to post it. Pauline Ferrand-Prévot added another more world champion jersey to her collection winning the women’s race ahead of Sanne Cant and Marianne Vos (I’m calling it now that the young french talent will be world champion in road, cycle-cross and mountain bike by the end of the year).
But I’m not here to make bold predictions. Way back in August I met a hilarious Dutch/Danish cyclist who had also volunteered for the torture that was the Tour de l’Ardeche: Margriet Kloppenburg. We’d both chosen to race the tour for different reasons; I needed racing and results and she was using the tough French tour as preparation for her upcoming cyclo-cross season.
I didn’t know Margriet when the tour started by the end of the week it felt like I’d known her for a while. There’s just something about suffering up mountain passes and sharing a tiny camping cabin that brings people together.
By the end of the week I’d learnt that the 26-year-old Margriet was born in Holland, moved to Denmark in 2002 and now lives in Belgium. I also learnt that she’d made the decision a few years to focus on cyclo-cross rather than road and for some reason my interest was sparked. I asked her if she’d be interested in writing a guest blog for me about why she chose cyclo-cross and she kindly obliged.
Unfortunately an injury saw Margriet sidelined for much of the cyclo-cross season and she missed today’s world championships but watch out for her in her upcoming cross races! But until then, check out her fantastic blog.
Before I raced on a mixed team with Chloe at the Tour d’Ardeche I didn’t know her. I knew she rode on my old team, Hitec Products, and that she could ride a pretty fast sprint. But that was about it.
I did not know she lived in Girona for most of the year (cheap training camp here I come!), that she wins other races than stages in Qatar or that she has some pretty awesome parents chasing her around the world to see her race.
But as it happened we shared a room on a campsite back in August and from one day to another we were teammates on “team Mixte internationale” and I got to learn these and many others things.
“Racing cyclocross in Belgium is like riding the women’s Tour of Flanders every single weekend, twice.”
In August the talk of the day in the women’s peloton was about teams and contracts. The road season was coming to an end and everyone was trying to get the best possible deal for next year and trying to squeeze out another result, some extra points to maybe be able to persuade some team management your worth it.
We also had this talk… (It was confidential, sorry). But where all the girls are looking for teams I am talking to sponsors and race organizers about sponsoring and start money. For me, August is only the start of my season. The tour of Ardeche was preparation.
After two years at Hitec Products I decided to ride on a smaller road team (a Dutch club team) and do a full cyclocross season in Belgium.
“At Hitec I called myself a ‘Pro’, that’s what it said on my license, but cyclocross made me realize that to be a professional cyclist I needed to earn money from it.”
Racing cyclocross (CX) in Belgium is like riding the women’s Tour of Flanders every single weekend, twice. You get up to 30,000 spectators at CX races. I know the women elite race on the same day as the men elite and that many of them come to see Sven Nys, but people are there when I race and cheer me on and know my name, so I like to believe were making a good show of it.
I had done some international CX racing previous to Hitec and enjoyed it a lot and thought why not give this a shot. So I did and I never looked back.
Already in my first season I got offered a bit of money to start in races. It wasn’t much and it was only at three or four races, but it was enough to cover fuel to those particular races.
At Hitec I called myself a ‘Pro’, that’s what it said on my license, but cyclocross made me realize that to be a professional cyclist I needed to earn money from it. I quite quickly realized that I had a much bigger chance for this to happen in CX than on the road.
There is not big money to be made in CX for women, but with price money to be equal to the men’s from the 2015/2016 season and our start time always just an hour before the men’s race our possibilities to make money have improved and with a very active women’s representative (Helen Wyman) in the CX commission at the UCI I think it will continue to improve.
I continued on small road teams for two seasons while having a few personal sponsors at the side that would give me equipment and showed support. But I felt I could not give much in return as I had to wear my road team’s kit to race cross in.
So in the summer of 2012 I decided to just do my own thing, and I started a one women team: Team BMC concept store. Sponsored mainly by my employer the BMC concept store in Gent where I had a part time job.
During the last two years I have progressed a lot in cross and been Danish national champion, gotten UCI podiums and I got to go two World Championships.
My income from start and price money has steadily grown with my results. However, most of it went back into the team to pay for fuel, hotels parts etc. But as the results improved the team grew and we, my boyfriend James Spragg who joined the team last year and I, are now at the point where all our costs for racing are covered by our team sponsors.
Even though start and prize money isn’t a very secure income I felt secure enough to quit my job with BMC and I can now finally call myself a ‘Pro’. I earn money with cycling. Riding a bike pays my bills.
Thank you Margriet! Follow her and her team!
Twitter: @inthemud.cx and @margriethk
Blog: Margriet Kloppenburg
Facebook: “inthemud.cx” and “margriet kloppenburg”