This year’s World Cyclocross Championships in Heusden-Zolder will see two Irish cyclists line up over the weekend with David Conroy racing in the Junior Men’s Race on Saturday and David Montgomery starting in the U23 Men’s race on Sunday.
Montgomery has spent some of the 2015-2016 cross season racing in Belgium where he has competed in the World Cup rounds in Koksijde, Namur and Zolder as well as a round of the Superprestige series in Diegem.
The Banbridge rider has signed for the An Post – Chain Reaction Cycles team for the 2016 season having spent 2015 with Team 3M, and has just finished a training camp with the team in Calpe, Spain.
We caught up with Montgomery recently to discuss his season and his forthcoming participation in the Worlds and his future plans.
“I’ve learned so much this season,” Montgomery said. “Cyclocross is absolutely massive in Belgium and if you haven’t been there you don’t realise.”
“When you look at the World Cups on video, you think they look big. But when you go to somewhere like the Koppenberg and see the fan clubs turning up in their coach loads, it’s like a Formula 1 race.”
As regards the World Championships, he’s hopeful of a good performance but feels that it will be down to avoiding bad luck which plagued him in a number of races including Zolder where he suffered multiple punctures.
Despite usually preferring heavier courses, this weekend the 20 year-old would prefer to see a drier faster course.
“I probably prefer heavier muddier courses rather than fast courses,” he says, “but I don’t have the support that other riders might have in the pits so I might be better off with a drier course.”
As to whether his future lies on the road or in cyclocross, Montgomery is going to just see how his career pans out.
“It really just depends at what level I get to in either discipline,” he says. “If I do get to a much higher level, then there’s no way I can do both.”
“Some of the guys, (Wout) Van Aert and those guys are maybe specifically starting their training in May. With racing (on the road), injuries can just build up, whereas if you’re just training you can control your build-up and be in much better shape.”
The difficulty in trying to come back to cross after a full road season was evident recently, when Lars Boom raced in the Elite Men’s race at Zolder.
“Lars Boom finished almost ten minutes down,” Montgomery said. “The build-up to him coming back was much bigger than it turned out to be.”
Montgomery would really like to see the sport growing in Ireland and feels that it has a lot to offer.
“It’s a great sport for spectators,” he says. “It’s only an hour and it’s flat-out. It’s never that boring to watch, whereas a road race lasting four hours can be.”
“I think if there were bigger fields, and with more time and money we could produce good riders and if we have more riders performing at a higher level, there will be more buzz about it and bigger races.”