Ellen van Loy Busy Racing 1x While Working Two Jobs
Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) is considered the second best Belgian Cyclocross rider. But that means she’s also considered one of the world’s best. In 2015, she is ranked 2nd in the Cyclocross World Cup classification behind Sanne Cant. And she is the overall winner of the Bpost Bank Trophee ahead of Sanne Cant.
The 34-year-old’s consistent results tell just half the story. She’s also a full-time educator. We were happy to catch up with the ever busy Ellen at the end of this cyclocross season:
Tell us three words which describe you the best.
Maybe stubborn, but in a good way. When I put my mind to it I will try very hard to achieve my goals. Flexible. I need this for my job and training to be able to organize everything. And social.
Before racing Cyclocross you were a triathlete and a volleyball player. How did you come to focus on Cyclocross?
I played volleyball but an injury forced me to play at a lower level than I was used to. I met my boyfriend who was riding bikes and I started with mountain biking during summer and our holidays in the Alps. Later I bought a road bike and started riding with groups. Because it went really well I decided to get into triathlon and combined volleyball with triathlon and duathlon. I was often in the front off the race after the cycling part, but then the better runners were overtaking me. I didn’t train a lot my run and my swim, so it didn’t get better. On the other hand I always pushing too hard on the bike… So one day someone said, “Why don’t you start racing bikes instead of triathlon?”
Somebody suggested I try cyclocross during winter in order to get better for the upcoming road season. So I raced in Lichtaart with the master’s A men, with a one-day license. I didn’t get last, so that was a victory in itself! … I raced a complete summer season and stopped with Volleyball but was still combining road racing and triathlon. … I also think Cyclocross suits me better than road. I like pushing hard and not just wait for a sprint.
What do you like best about Cyclocross?
I like the fact that you work for yourself, so most of the time the strongest wins. I like getting dirty and when everyone else thinks it’s too cold. … I like the different courses so you don’t get bored during the season. There are also more and more supporters for the women’s races now so it’s getting better and better.
Besides being a top cyclocross athlete, you are also a full-time educator? What keeps your motivation high to train as you balance work and cycling?
I work with people with Down syndrome. I’m still motivate to train and race cyclocross because it’s a hobby. I also like the diversity in training and the feeling of getting stronger. The downside is that when I train I can't do any work in the house…
How does your job as an educator influence you as an athlete?
Not always in a positive way because I can’t sit down during working hours when I should rest and therefore my training is a bit compromised. On the bright side the people I work with are always happy with my performance and I can easily forget about a bad race or a setback when you see them smiling when they see me. They never complain so why should I? Their never-ending enthusiasm makes me smile all the time.
Are you excited to race Cross Vegas in Las Vegas since that race is a World Cup? Have you raced in Las Vegas before? If so, what were your impressions.
I haven’t raced there before, but I would love it. I have seen pictures from the race and it looks like something really special. Because I want to defend my good World cup and UCI classifications I have to race there! The fact that it’s in a very special part off the world makes it even more interesting.
This season you had constant great results, ending with the 2nd place overall in the World cup classification and the victory in the Bpost Bank Trophee, tell us your highlights? Are there any races, courses, atmospheres… that really topped your season?
Maybe the atmosphere in Milton Keynes was the most impressive! It reminded me Louisville World Championships in 2013.
Also a great race result was maybe my fourth place in Namur World cup on Sunday when all the girls in front of me didn’t race the day before on the heavy track in Essen. The race in China was also very special, we where treated like stars there. And the win in Woerden with Katie Compton and Helen Wyman in second and third made a nice podium picture.
Why are Belgian’s so good at cyclocross? Is there something about the way the country attracts talented riders to cyclocross and develops their talents?
Belgians are good at it because in the Elite men category you can earn a lot of money when you are good, so a lot of young riders choose cyclocross instead of mountain bike or road. It’s also easy here because every race is maybe an hour drive for 90 percent of the riders. In Belgium there are a lot of category 1 races and World cups, so many foreign riders choose to stay during the season. That lifts again the level of the sport.
What are your favorite racing conditions? Any specific race courses?
When I started racing I preferred fast races or snowy conditions, but now it seems that for me it is best that there is a lot of mud where you can just keep riding in. It has maybe something to do with my age and body type. I am taller but also heavier than most of the other rider. But I also like it when there are climbs like in Ronse, Overijse or Valkenburg….
You are racing for Telenet-Fidea Team for a few years now. What do you like about this team?
It is very comfortable that they arrange everything for me. We don’t need to worry about equipment anymore. You know that bikes, wheels and groupsets are super. The clothing, energy food… are also taken care of so that makes it a lot easier.
It’s the first year you are riding our 1x drivetrain, the SRAM Force CX1. What do you best about it?
I instantly liked it because it’s one less thing to think about during racing. I know I can take every hill with the cassette and when I get tired at the end of the race I don’t have to doubt which chainring to use for that last climb. My mechanic (also my husband) likes it because it’s less work and easier to clean.
Main photo, Photos #1, #3 & #4: Balint Hamvas, CyclePhotos