Meet with Cyclocross Junior Belgian Champion Eli Iserbyt
A week ago, Telenet-Fidea organized its team presentation in Erpe-Mere (Belgium) on the Steenbergcross Cyclocross Course. Hundreds of fans had the chance to ride with their favorite pro riders. We took this opportunity to discuss with the 2014 Cyclocross Junior Belgian National Champion, Eli Iserbyt. Eli lives in Bavikhove (Belgium) where he trains and studies. After playing football (soccer) he switched successfully to cyclocross. Though just 16, Iserbyt shows great maturity and places much importance on his studies (mathematics and science). He hopes to become a doctor or a lawyer.
Last January, you won the National Belgian Junior title. Before the race, did you have the victory in mind? How does it feel to be Belgian Champion?
I was absolutely not expecting this title because it was my first year as junior. There are others guys like Thijs Aerts and Yannick Peeters who had good results during the season, so I didn’t think I could win. Maybe being on the podium… It was a great moment. It is really good feeling to wear the Belgian jersey. I don’t feel extra pressure. I have something that the others don’t and it gives me pride.
How did you get into cyclocross?
Before cyclocross I was into football. Once I was riding on mountain bike with my dad and some guys said that I was good on a bike. So, I started to do some individual training and also rode with others. I did my first cyclocross “race” when I was 12-13 years old. I really liked it, so I start racing! It was like a dream when Telenet-Fidea came to me and asked if I wanted to join the team. For me it was and it still is the top cyclocross team.
Do you train with the other riders? A lot of riders in the team have a lot of experience at the highest level of the sport, such as Bart Wellens. Do you share experience with them?
During the season I don’t train that much with the other riders because I live on the other side of Belgium. But when I go to training camps I really like riding with my teammates. Bart always says good things and gives up really good tips. He is like a friend and doesn’t treat us like kids. He has a lot of respect and so do we for him.
What are your favorite racing conditions (cold, muddy, technical sections…)?
Technical and dry course. A bit uphill where you need to be explosive. My weakness is when it’s muddy because I’m pretty small and I don’t have a lot of force. Getting older I will probably be better on muddy courses because I will be stronger. I’m still a kid and in my category I ride against guys who are 3 years older than I. When you are 15, it’s a hug gap compared to somebody who is 18 years old.
What are your goals for this season?
Be consistent during the season and win some big races. The European and the World Championships are two important races for me. But school goes first. Cyclocross is still a hobby. So if I lose it’s not the end of the world. I have the chance to have parents who are not putting pressure on me. They support my passion. There is a really good atmosphere in the team and we are good friends. I can easily ride for one of my teammates.
This summer you have received your bikes equipped with the SRAM Force CX1 drivetrain. What are your first impressions?
It’s really easy. You don’t need to think or to worry about the front shifting. It feels natural. I got use to it from the start. It’s also super light. I like it very much.
Which chainring/ cassette combination will you ride the most?
I will mainly race on 40T or 42T in the front and 11-28 in the back. 11-32 is really good for training but for me during races I want to be more explosive so the 11-28 is the right choice. But the choice will also depend on the course and our coach will help us to make the right choice.
Do you also like working on your bikes?
Unfortunately between studying, training and racing I don’t have a lot of time. For now there are a lot of things I cannot do on my bike but I’d like to learn.
What do you do besides cyclocross and your studies?
I still play football even if it’s not good for my knees. I like video games.
How do you train during summer?
I ride on the road. But it’s not what I prefer because in Belgium it’s flat and I like climbing. Cyclocross is also more fun. I run every week, even during the season. With my “football” background I’m pretty good at it. I have short legs but I have not issue to run against guys 2m tall! I also do core stability exorcises and of course technical training.
Thanks Eli for your time and we wish you a great season!