UCI Cross-country World Championships, 3 July
Nové Město na Moravě, Czech Rebublic
James: 47th place
The town of Nové Město na Moravě in the central Czech Republic was the scene of a titanic showdown for the World Championship Rainbow Jersey among throngs of loud and passionate fans. It was also an opportunity for the world’s best to show their hands ahead of the Rio Olympics in August. And for South African Champion James Reid it was a critical piece of the Olympic puzzle to fit in place.
Unfortunately it didn’t go according to plan for James who, after a great start that saw him inside the top thirty, slid back through the field and struggled to really rev his engine and engage the higher gears he knows he is capable of. James lapped consistently through the fanatical crowds lining the exciting and technical course for 47th position.
“Nové Město World Championships was a big disappointment,” James admitted. “I was hampered by a crash I had a week ago, where I landed on my ribs. But besides that I just didn’t have the legs and the shape on the day.”
“I went hard early on and I felt like I was pacing myself well, but I came unstuck on the second and third laps, where I lost a lot of places and time. Sort of found a rhythm on the fourth, fifth and sixth lap but by then it was already too late and I was disappointed to fade to around 47th place. It is a lot lower than the personal expectations I had. It feels like an anomaly in terms of the preparation I’ve put in and hopefully it was just a blip and there are better things to come…”
While James experienced a frustrating event, a lot was riding on fellow Specialized athlete, former World Champ, reigning Olympic Champ and Czech hero, Jaroslav Kulhavy. Fanatical crowds poured in for days in the lead-up to the weekend’s racing, hoping to watch “Jaro” reclaim his former glory, after a wrist injury earlier this year. They were wearing Jaro masks and chanting Jaro songs while marching through the pits. Thankfully, the big man delivered: taking the fight to eventual winner Nino Schurter of Switzerland in the early laps before settling for second place ahead of France’s Julian Absalon.
James will be looking for redemption this weekend at the UCI World Cup in Lenzerheide, Switzerland and at home the following weekend at the 2016 South African XCO Nationals in Cascades, Pietermaritzburg back in South Africa.