Because of Covid-19, the current cycling season is a strange one. For young riders maybe even more. Silje Mathisen for example. The 19 year old rider joined Team Hitec Products this year, but it took until last week that she was able to make her official debut for the team in an international race. In Gent-Wevelgem Silje showed good form. We talked with her about a strange season, her debut in the Belgium World Tour race and what is yet to come.
“I think the organisers did a good job to make it a safe race”, Silje looks back on Gent-Wevelgem. The Belgium races do everything to keep the peloton save. One of the things is to ask people to stay at home, while the women’s races are also on television. “The staff in the team also did everything they could to make it as safe as possible. I really appreciate that the team gives us the opportunity to compete, despite the situation.”
Silje already did race with the team on national level and raced at the Norwegian road race championships, but this was a new experience for her. “It was very exciting to race my first international race as a senior rider and it was even on World Tour level. The experiences I will take with me to the future. I can use them as motivation in the winter period. The level of the race was high, as expected, but I am happy with my race.”
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With the cancelation of Paris-Roubaix, there are now only two cycling classics left on the program of the peloton. This Sunday it’s time for the Tour of Flanders and on Tuesday the Driedaagse De Panne will be organised, if everything goes according to plan. Silje will be on the start of both races; “My goal will be to have a good spot in the peloton before the hills start. I can’t expect to get a good result, as it is my first year as a senior. And as I also had some troubles with injuries this year, I am just happy that I can be there to learn and gain experience.”
Above all, Silje is happy that racing is still possible. “I am very thankful for the job all organisers do to make the races safe and I hope they will continue to organise, also if this situation will last for a while. From this situation we do learn that it is possible to find solutions, even though it seems hard these times. And we also get to see how lucky we are and learn to appreciate our ‘normal’ life. I do however hope that everything will be normal again as fast as possible. It will be really nice not to use a mask and see people cheer for us in the races again.”
Photo top: Sportfoto.nl – Silje before the start of Gent-Wevelgem.