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Jens Schwedler on cyclocross in Germany

In few weeks the summer will be here and the European cyclocross season begins. Armin M. Kuestenbrueck, editor-in-chief of the German internet magazine www.mtb-race.com spoke with Jens Schwedler, team head of the successful cyclocross team Stevens-Jeantex and German Elite champion in Querfeldein, about his preparation and goals for the upcoming season.

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Photo: © Rob Karman

Cyclingnews: Jens, how is your preparation for the season?

Schwedler: On the whole the preparation is going very well. In the middle of July, I undertook a performance inspection at the University of Freiburg. There I co-operate once again with Dr. Georg Huber, who cared for me during my time as an cyclocross professional. He has been at my disposal at any time with advice and assistance. The test has certified that I have very good efficiency, but this could still be improved in the lead-up to the cyclocross season. The German cyclocross season begins on the 3rd of October with the traditional Querfeldien race starting in Berlin's Katzbach Stadium.

CN: How do you rate your chances for the season?

JS: Actually, I'm in better condition than I was a year ago. During the summer I worked with the Stevens bicycle manufacturers to develop a new cyclocross wheel. These will be released at Eurobike in Friedrichshafen, (28/08,-01/09).

I've also done a lot of physical training. I have clearly more kilometres in my legs than in August 2001. At that time I'd done a nearly ridiculous 5,000 kilometres; this year I've done over 15,000 kilometres already. A further important difference is that in the past year I hardly did any road training - contrary to this year. Before the cyclocross season begins, I will have ridden probably 25,000 km, above all focusing on strengthening my sprinting ability.

CN: Which events will you focus on in 2002/03?

JS: My rough season planning is almost done. I will speak to my cyclocross manager Walter Wahl, a supporter of cyclocross and organizer of the German World Cup round at the Bornheimer Hang course in Frankfurt on 24/11. The details aren't confirmed, as the German race calendar has not been published yet. The World Cup will definitely be emphasised, with five races in Europe. I will particularly concentrate on the World Cup round in Frankfurt, in front of my home crowd.

Beyond that, the renowned Super-Prestige series, which is almost considered the second World Cup series, and will also be held in Europe. Naturally, the German championships in Berlin are very important to me, where I will defend my German Master's title. However the world championship at the beginning of February in the southern Italian city of Monopoli has the highest value for me. The distance of this race suits me well. The profile is similar to this year's Belgian Zolder, where I unfortunately came twentieth. Nevertheless I believe that the nature of my racing mentality will suit the course.

CN: How is your co-operation with the federation of German cyclists (BDR)?

JS: I have spoken with the other national racers and the BDR in Bad Dürrheim at the beginning of June. At that time the Director of Sport, Burkhard Bremer, was against it, in order to promote the new generation of riders. If, however, there was enough commitment on the part of the sportsmen and their sponsors, the BDR could also be involved - although to a lesser extent - in the running of the World Cup and World Championship, with the support of the older sportsmen. Otherwise the sportsmen are to do their own organisation and administration, following the guidelines of the BDR. At that time it was also discussed that the coach of the national team, Peter Weibel, would put together a training and racing plan that could be given to all sportsmen. I have still not heard or seen anything of it. This year I trained with Dr. Huber, Walter Wahl and Mike Kluge, our co-operation did not fail under the weight of these issues.

CN: What role does Mike Kluge play in your preparation?

JS: Mike Kluge has been a friend for a long time, and we have often trained together. In the last season we co-operated quite intensively. This year Mike will not accompany me for the whole winter in South Africa, but will be with me for a few weeks in the season. But I will move to Freiburg with my wife and daughter in order to live with them and train with Mike. He noticed in recent weeks how important success is to me this season. Therefore he decided to support me to a very considerable extent.

CN: One week after the World Championships you turn 35. How do you motivate yourself at this age to continue with this quite difficult sport, with wind and weather, mud and water?

JS: The motivation is in the joy of racing with my opponents, who are often not much younger than I. I think, at 35, I have not reached the zenith of a cyclocross rider. Also the commitment of the sponsors, who have desire to promote Jens Schwedler and the German cyclocross sport, motivates me again and again. Above all, I have to mention Stevens boss Werner von Hacht and Wolfgang Linden of Jeantex, who strengthen me again and again with their support. Finally I had the opportunity, in co-operation with Stevens Product Manager, Volker Dormann, to design and manufacture a racing wheel optimal for me. These wheels are also offered to the other German cyclocross drivers at favourable prices. It is in the interest of Stevens to once again bring new life to this sport, in which Germany was once a major contender. At the same time, I have been co-operating with Jeantex to develop perfect functioning clothes for cold and wet winter racing.

CN: How do the next few weeks look, before the beginning of the cyclocross season?

JS: Tomorrow morning I fly out on vacation, which I have really earned after the months of intensive preparation. The last month has been rather hard with its intensive and long training session. I say vacation, but it isn't a vacation from the sport. In Turkey I will strengthen my general musculature through weight training and also my race condition will continue to develop.

I must pay some attention now to my weight, which I reduced in the past weeks to 75 Kilos (with a height of 1.89 m): that matches my weight last season when I won the title at the German championships. This time I have attained that weight already at the beginning of the season...

CN: Well then, have a great vacation!