Post race interviews can be a treacherous time for any athlete, where emotions collide with the need to feed the media, and Belgium’s Sanne Cant rode headlong into that mix on Sunday at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:39 PM

Cant was the meat in a Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Marianne Vos sandwich, but it was she who took a big bite at both in the post-race washup.

The 2014/5 Word Cup champion went into the race with high expectations of winning but finished just a single second behind Ferrand Prevot to take silver, and her disappointment was immediately on show as she expressed frustration at two riders who she effectively described as part-timers.

"I ride a full Cyclo-cross season and have many more races in my legs than those other women. They are more fresh than me," Cant said.

"It's frustrating to lose the world title in the sprint from someone who rides fewer Cyclo-cross races than I do. I recognize the qualities of Nash, Vos and Ferrand-Prevot but Pauline and Marianne start their 'cross campaign in December and focus on the World Championships. I can't afford to skip ten races to be fresh for the World Championships.

"I have to be up there all season long. Then it's hard to fight up against women who race half the season. That's easier than performing all season long. That's a bit of a blow now."

She compared her situation to the one the men experienced at the last world championship where Cyclo-cross star Zdenek Stybar rolled up to take out the 2013/1014 title after limited participation during the season.

"I don't think the men were happy to see a fresh Zdenek Stybar racing along only one race each season," Cant said.

Stybar's win meant the world championship stripes were not on show at all during this Cyclo-cross season and he wasn't even present at the start line to defend because of an earlier injury.

Cant later recanted her comments in a tweet but her points were nonetheless important and clearly she was voicing some of the frustrations of other full-time Cyclo-cross riders.

Of course Ferrand-Prevot and Vos are only part-time riders in Cyclo-cross but both are full-time cyclists, racing across the three disciplines of road, mountain bike and Cyclo-cross through a season.

In fact you could argue their seasons are longer as a result, while Cyclo-cross is a compressed discipline largely held over four months. Ferrand Prevot has raced in three World Championship events since September. A difficult thing to peak for, while Cant only had to focus on her discipline.

It gets harder and harder to find the superlatives to describe Vos, and this past year we've had to find some new ones for Ferrand Prevot, who appears to have eclipsed Vos after winning both the road and Cyclo-cross world championships. She also finished in the top ten at the mountain bike world championships in 2014 after winning two World Cups along the way.

At 24, Cant will in all likelihood win a Cyclo-cross world championship sometime in her career, probably sooner than later as her narrow loss showed. But while her comments are worth considering, the real issue here for her and the other women in road, mountain bike and Cyclo-cross is not about how many races you ride in a season, but that everyone is riding at a time when two incredibly talented and versatile athletes are lifting women's cycling to new heights.

That leaves very little room for others, so the only solution is for Cant and the rest to lift their game now that the bar has been set so high.