February 2, 2008 – Pedal caught up with Canadian cyclocross racers who headed across the Atlantic this winter in order to test their mettle on the European ‘cross scene and prepare for the World Championships, which took place January 26-27 in Treviso, Italy. Shaun Adamson, 22, is a Physical Education student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Adamson talked to Pedal about his experiences racing in Europe and reflections on his 54th-place finish in the U23 Men’s race at the 2008 Cyclocross Worlds in Part 7 of this series of interviews.
How long have you been in Europe now?
Shaun Adamson: I’ve been here since Dec 19, but it certainly doesn’t seem like that long. I came over here last year for five weeks and absolutely loved it. I knew I had to come again!
Tell us about your CX Worlds race.
SA: I am happy with my race. I feel like I rode well technically and I rode as hard as I possibly could. In my second-last lap, I felt like I was racing Niels [Albert, the U23 Men’s champion] for the win. And he didn’t actually lap me, they just pulled me, so that he could be alone for the finish line photos. The course was good and the conditions beautiful. I was surprised at how many fans were out. Hopefully I can come back next Christmas, race more, and learn more! I love racing in Europe!
What was the course like?
SA: It’s not like anything I’ve ridden. It’s kind of pea gravel, wet grass, and hard. So I wouldn’t say it’s my course. It’s a lot of just grinding along. That’s something I need to work on. It’s not my course, but it’s a course that I want to be able to do well on in the future.
What were your expectations about this trip and did it meet your expectations or has it been quite different?
SA: I don’t know if I really had any expectations. I knew how hard it was going to be. But I can’t believe how fast Niels Albert is now. He’s unreal! But I have had some very good races. And I have learned a lot and improved. That’s the most important thing for me – to learn lots and create opportunities to pass it on.
What were you shooting for in the Worlds race?
SA: I was really hoping for a top 40 and to finish on the lead lap. I know how I compare to the other North Americans, but I’ve been focusing a lot less on the race outcome and more on learning and just riding well on the trip to Europe this year.
Of the Canadian racers we’ve talked to, they’ve agreed that ‘cross racing in Europe is very different from racing in North America, and in order to race at a world level, you need to be racing in Europe.
SA: Of course you need to be in Europe to be at the very top. North America is fast and it gives you the opportunity to improve. But the top guys at home have a really hard time here. And I would say the biggest thing is the courses. There is nothing like it at home. And everything is closer here, so it’s cheaper once you’re here. This is the place to be! Unfortunately, the bakeries are really good here as well….
What was the best part of your trip?
SA: The people I’ve stayed with and how much they’ve helped me. I’ve learned a ton this year and grown a lot as an athlete. I have many new goals and plans. So I hope I can take all that back and show the big companies that providing money is worthwhile (my mom said this is the last year she’s paying for it). I just want to come back again and again and learn more and more. Then I want to pass on that knowledge. So I guess simply learning lots has been the best part of my trip.
What’s your favourite European treat?
SA: Oooh, there’s too many. I think I’d have to go with the rice cake [tarte de riz – consists of a pastry crust with a sweet rice filling] though. Delicious! I think I’m actually going to learn how to make them at home and eat them at road races….
What do you do when you’re not racing in Europe?
SA: I’m working on a Phys Ed degree at the University of Alberta, hopefully working toward a MSc, PhD in exercise physiology.
I’ve also been a barista at Transcend Coffee (a local roastery and cafe). Before I left I was doing honey lattes, which are really good. At Christmas (which I love, by the way) I’m a big fan of the eggnog chai. But really, I just enjoy different single origin coffees and espresso.
I don’t know what I’m going to do when I get back [home], but I do need to pay off some serious debts!
Any advice for other young racers with big dreams?
SA: If I can say one thing, go out there and ride hard! Don’t skip out on any opportunities! If you think you might want to be a racer, go to Europe; you will know much sooner.