Shari Bossuyt had her first season on World Tour level during 2022, a year in which she became Madison World Champion together with Lotte Kopecky. We had a chat with the rider of Canyon//SRAM Racing about the upcoming season.
Hi Shari, welcome back to Domestique Cycling Podcast. We already talked to each other twice last year as you were one of our Young Wolves. How are you doing?
“It’s going better now than a month ago. I broke my collarbone during a track training, so I doubted if I could get ready for the European Championships track cycling in February. It was a stupid accident, but the recovery goes well. The doctor said the bone is healing fast, which is obviously good news. Luckily it doesn’t seem to be a big problem when it comes to those European Championships.”
You had your first year with Canyon//SRAM Racing in 2022. Are you happy with your decision to join that team?
“Yes, looking back at it I can be verry happy with the way the team threated me. I got a lot of freedom during 2022 and the team gave me even more chances towards the end of the season. I’m very pleased.”
In 2022 you finished 20 times in the top 10, while having 37 race days. Do you agree when we say it was a successful season?
“I had a really good start during the Classics. That was already a first big step forward. I was able to do what the team asked me to do. In the latter part of the season, I got some strong results in the Tour of Scandinavia where I finished multiple times on the podium.”
How would you rate your 2022 season on a 1-10 rating scale?
“That’s a difficult question. I would give it a 7 as I didn’t get that victory on the road and obviously there’s always room for improvement.”
2022 was your first year on WorldTour level. What were the biggest differences when comparing it to lower categories?
“The team works in a more professional way individually. The guidance during races is quite similar, but the training camps and sponsor commitments are on a higher level. I learned a lot about nutrition on the bike. That’s something I didn’t really focus on earlier on in my career. I eat more carbs in an hour of racing now than I did before. Off the bike we don’t really have guidance when it comes to nutrition. There are possibilities to get in touch with a dietitian, but I don’t really feel the need at this point.”
A lot of riders left the team during the offseason, but there are also some new names at Canyon//SRAM Racing for 2023. Do you think the team is stronger now?
“I think we’re stronger in general this season. Looking at the Classics squad, I think we’ll have more cards to play in the finale. I guess we will have multiple choices of how we want to play it out during the finals of races. Besides that, we also have some new climbers in the team coming from the Generation team.”
Looking at the Classics squad, I think we will have more cards to play with during the finals this season
One of those new climbers is Ricarda Bauernfeind, one of our Young Wolves this season. How was the first meeting with her?
“I already knew Ricarda as we have the same age and we went on a training camp with the Generation team last year. She rode on the track in the past as well. I think she’s able to get a nice result in races like Liège. In Giro Donne there’s also a lot of climbing on the program, so that race might suit her too. Ricarda isn’t scared of a time trial either. She has a lot of potential.”
The Canyon//SRAM Racing team camp took place this month. How was it?
“I rode alone the first week as I was a little bit scared. At the start of the season the ability to react isn’t always as good when riding in group and I really didn’t want something more to happen after my crash. Because of the broken collarbone I didn’t train for a week, so it was better to train alone at first. The most important thing was to be on the bike for as many hours as possible. A team camp is always good to get to know the new riders, but actually races are more important when it comes to that matter. You really get to know a rider by starting in the same race.”
What will your role be this season?
“I will be one of the team leaders. Of course that role can change during the season. When I don’t feel good or something goes wrong, I’ll tell the team. I always try to be honest with the team directors and my teammates, but at this point the plan is to be among the team leaders.”
Last year the team took things easy with you, so your 2022 schedule wasn’t super busy. Is that going to change in 2023?
“My schedule won’t be busier than last year. In fact, I’ll race less during the Classics. I’m pretty happy with that, because last year I already felt empty before Paris-Roubaix. The peak of my form was already behind me at that point in the season. In 2023 I’ll be at the start of all big races. I think less racing will be beneficial for me. That way I’ll be able to peak better towards the big races instead of having a schedule that is too busy. Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix will definitely be part of this season’s Classics program. If I could mention two races where I want to be at my best, I’d say Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.”
Less racing will be beneficial for me. That way I'll be able to peak better towards the big races
Will you be at the start of your first Grand Tour as well this year?
“We’re still talking about that. Lotte Kopecky and I want to qualify for the Olympics next year, so we’ll be racing on the track as well during this season. The World Championships track cycling take place only five days after Tour de France Femmes I think, so we’re still looking if Tour de France fits in the schedule. Nothing is decided yet about the second part of my season.”
Is there a race you’ve never done, you really want to be at the start of this year?
“Definitely Tour of Flanders. It’s a monument in my own country, which will make it super special. That brings some pressure as well of course. It’s a very long race and the media always expect something of you as a Belgian rider. I’ll be happy when I’ve been able to show myself during that race.”
You already mentioned the Olympic Games in Paris next year. Does it have an influence on your schedule besides the Grand Tours?
“Yes. We will race the Nations Cup in Milton, which takes place on the same day as Amstel Gold Race. The team really wanted me to be part of the Amstel team, but they agreed on going to Milton. In February there’s also UAE Tour and the European Championships track cycling. Luckily the team and I didn’t have major discussions about combining road and track races.”
Being part of Paris 2024 would obviously be a dream coming true for you.
“For sure. Two years ago I was in Tokyo as well, so I already know how things work at the Olympics. After our World title I think it’s okay for Lotte and me to be ambitious. However, we need to keep both feet on the ground now and take it race by race.”
Take us with you on that special day at the World Championships track cycling in Paris last year.
“Both before and after the race there were a lot of emotions. I crashed hard one month before the World Championships. I’m not saying no one believed in me anymore, but they doubted me. I understood the decision not to let me race the omnium, but there were other discussions I didn’t agree on. That day I took revenge for the doubts. I answered with my pedals.”
How special is it to wear and see that beautiful rainbow jersey?
“I gave the jersey a nice place in our stairwell. Every time I go upstairs I see it. It’s such a special feeling. It even feels weird to wear the jersey during a track training. I often think ‘Is this really me wearing that rainbow jersey’. It’s a dream coming true.”
It feels weird to wear the rainbow jersey during a track training. I often think 'Is this really me wearing that jersey?'
When will you be a happy woman at the end of 2023?
“When I give you a big answer now, you’ll mention it next year of course… I’ll be happy when I didn’t have a lot of bad luck and when I could do what I wanted to do before the season. Besides that, I hope to get a beautiful victory. If that happens I’ll be able to rate my season 10/10 next year.”
Listen to the entire interview with Shari Bossuyt below! (in Dutch)