Ladies Katrijn De Clercq: "I am satisfied with the progress I have made so far"
Lotto Dstny rider Katrijn De Clercq (21) makes a successful combination between her career as both a cyclist and a student. De Clercq already won several Belgian titles on the track and took bronze at the European Track Championships for U23 riders in the madison last year. The 21-year-old Belgian also showed herself on the road with a sixth place in both the GP Ecostruct and the Ronde de Mouscron this season: "I am satisfied with the progress I have already made this season, but I know that there is still room for improvement."
De Clercq started riding the bike at a young age: "When I was a child, my older brother started racing. At that age I imitated him in every way possible. As soon as I was 8 years old and allowed to participate in competitions, I registered for my first race. "
In addition to her activities on the road, the 21-year-old rider is also a talented track cyclist: "When I was twelve, my dad wanted me to ride an initiation course on the track to improve my agility. After the first lesson I was hooked and I haven't stopped since."
When De Clercq joined the U17 category, it became clear that she had an aptitude for the sport: "Suddenly I was selected for the national team and I was allowed to participate in international competitions. That was a confirmation that I had to continue with the sport."
Within the Lotto Dstny Ladies team, she can work on both her track and road career: "Thanks to the team, this can be combined very well. Sometimes I have to make choices in my program, but I am very well guided in this. There are plenty of examples of riders who build a successful career in both disciplines. I really look up to Lotte (Kopecky) and Shari (Bossuyt) and I want to go for that combination, just like them."
"I am definitely in favour of track training for road cyclists," says Katrijn De Clercq. "Some of the most agile riders in the peloton have their origins on the track. It also offers advantages in a sprint. Just like on the track, you have to notice gaps in a compact group and squeeze your way between them."
The rider made her debut with the Lotto Dstny Ladies last year: "It's a great team to start your career. They guide young riders well during the transition from the youth to the elite peloton. The emphasis is not on adding victories to your record, but on gaining experience and race insight. In my first year, I was not completely satisfied in terms of my performances. I was sick a few times and couldn't reach my ideal form. This year I notice that I have taken steps and I hope to grow even further in the future. "
In addition to cycling, she also finds time for studies. De Clercq is currently in her third year of Biochemistry at Ghent University: "In the coming weeks, the focus will be on my exams. I have a top sport status and therefore my studies are feasible in combination with the sport. Once the exams are done, there are still a number of great races coming up. I am also working towards the European Track Cycling Championships in January 2024 in Paris."
"For the rest of my career, I hope to be able to maintain that combination of track and road cycling. On the road, I mainly dream of the spring classics. Being able to compete for a podium in the Tour of Flanders or Gent-Wevelgem, that must be fantastic," the rider concludes.