Jolanda Neff has announced her start at the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Champions in Singen. On 25th of June, the Swiss mountain bike star wants to use the experience she made, when she lost the finish at the European championships at the Hegau Bike Marathon in 2015 and defend the world title she won in Laissac 2016.
Jolanda Neff (Kross Racing Team) has done less than a hand full of marathon races. Two of them were international championships. The first one she did at the Europeans in Singen 2015 and immediately she won silver, beating a lot of experienced marathon specialists.
The second were the worlds in Laissac. Neff took the rainbow jersey, with a bit of luck, when Denmark’s Annika Langvad punctured. But Langvad also had trouble with course directions, going off course before she had punctured. When Neff arrived at the finish line, showing not a bit of happiness, because she was not aware of taking gold.
From one end to the other
Regarding the Singen experience in 2015, Jolanda Neff grins, when she looks back. “I remember, it was more a spontaneous decision to take part at the Europeans, because Singen is not far from my home town. It was more for training. The day before I was racing cross country in Solothurn.”
Neff grew up and lives in Thal, which is a bit more than a one hour drive to Singen, situated on the south east end of the Lac of Constance in Switzerland. You can find Singen at the other, the western end of the lake in Southern Germany.
The two times cross country world cup overall winner continues smiling, when she thinks about the finish of the Europeans in 2015. “For sure I have learned something out of it, especially regarding the course.”
Neff refers to the finish, which she lost against Sabine Spitz. The German knew the details of the course and passed the Swiss surprisingly some hundred meters before the finish line.
Planning ahead of 2017
The calendar is very tight, with two World Cup races to follow the worlds: Will you defend your marathon title?
“Hmm, I do not know if I will defend it. But I will try, for sure. And I will prepare myself better than in 2015. The worlds in Singen will probably be the only marathon race I will do this year, but it’s already in my schedule and I am looking forward to do this race again.”
Jolanda Neff was criticised in 2016, when she did the marathon worlds one week before the cross country worlds. In Nove Mesto she finished eighth. The reason not being able to compete for a medal, was not the load of the marathon before, but a crash she had at the end of May in La Bresse. This caused bruising of some ribs followed by breathing and back problems.
“Still I think my plan was okay. In training I never had the problems as I had in the race, when it comes to total intensity. But in retrospective I would say, yes, I should have changed my plans”, says Neff. “This year the marathon worlds are followed by two World Cups. So it will be the same and I think it will work.”
Jolanda Neff on road tactics and university
On the very fast course through the volcano landscape of the Hegau Bike Marathon, Jolanda Neff cannot benefit from her extraordinary technical skills a lot. But she is also able to play tactics. Therefore she can use her experience on the road, where she won the Tour of Pologne and finished eighth at the Olympics in 2016.
Jolanda Neff started studying history, English and French at the University of Zürich in autumn 2016. “I remember, that it worked well for me, when I was still in school. To have some additional challenge for my brain helps me. I invested a lot of time at the university and of course right now I am not at that point, where I was one year ago. But I hope I will get back there when the World Cup season starts in May.”
For more details on the World Championships course, run at the Hegau Bike Marathon, visit their website.