Next Saturday the Classics season kicks off with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the perfect place for Shari Bossuyt
to make her debut for her new team Canyon//SRAM Racing. We had a chat with Shari to get to know her and to discover her expectations for the 2022 season.
For those who don't really know you, who's Shari Bossuyt?
"I'm Shari Bossuyt, a 21-year-old Belgian rider. Together with my boyfriend Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux) and our dog Ukkie we live in Stasegem. As from this year I ride as a pro for Canyon//SRAM Racing. I see myself as an allround type of rider. It's not that I'm a bad climber, but I don't climb well enough to follow the best in the mountains. The Classics suit me better."
"When Canyon contacted me for the first time, I thought it was fake"
How did you end up in the world of cycling?
"Cycling is a family thing for me as I grew up with it. My father used to ride and so did my brother. I joined the latter when he went to the races and before I realised it, I was riding a bike myself. At first I wanted to play football, but my parents didn't have the time to join me on matchdays, so I decided to try cycling. Looking back on it, it turned out to be the right choice."
That choice led you towards Canyon//SRAM Racing. How did the contract negotiations with the team evolve?
"That's actually a funny story. The team contacted me for the first time using Instagram. The man who messaged me didn't have a profile picture on his account. He didn't even have a single photo on Instagram. I showed it to my boyfriend Gerben. He immediately said it was fake. Gerben knew someone at the team, so we checked it. That way we discovered it wasn't fake it all."
"It took a while before a team contacted me, but luckily Canyon wanted me in the team. Plantur-Pura and Movistar wanted to sign me as well, but they contacted me later than Canyon did, so we never really had a talk. The big advantage is that Canyon doesn't have any problems with me doing track races as well. That's why I never hesitated about signing for the team."
"I learnt a lot at NXTG Racing. It's the perfect team to gain experience"
Do you feel at home already in your new team?
"We had some good teamcamps. I needed some time to adapt as everyone was new to me, but I felt at home pretty fast. There are two other Dutch speaking riders in the team: Maud Oudeman and Pauliena Rooijakkers. It's always nice when you can speak your mother tongue. The more experienced riders in the team made sure the new riders felt at home immediately. We have a fun team. There are no groups within it, which has been different the last couple of years for me. Everyone gets along well with each other."
What are the biggest differences between your new team and NXTG Racing, your previous team?
"First of all, I learnt a lot at NXTG Racing. They gave me the chance to ride some amazing races. It's the perfect team for younger riders to gain experience, but for me, it was time for a new environment."
"NXTG Racing and Canyon//SRAM Racing are two different teams of course. There are a lot of differences in general. Nutrition is one of them. Another example is the fact that Canyon uses a lot of different sensors on training. We have a core sensor for example, which measures your temperature on the bike. Besides that one, they also use a sensor for glucose. It's very interesting to know the amount of sugars you consume on the bike. That's useful information when you think about the races. Canyon is an extremely professional team."
What will your first season at Canyon//SRAM Racing look like?
"My season starts at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. A few days later I'll be at the start of Le Samyn. It will be mostly races in Belgium and the Netherlands on my program as those races suit me best. The idea is to ride some of the World Tour races, but not all of them. It's still a high level for me, so we chose to grow steadily. That's also why I won't ride a Grand Tour this year. The team doesn't want to rush things. They want me to plan some rest periods during the season as well. They force me to go on a holiday in May for example."
You kick off at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Do you have any goals in that race?
"Of course it's nice to have a good result at the end, but I want to support the team in the best possible way. I'll be at the start on a good level, but I won't have my best legs yet. That's why I don't have a big goal in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. I hope to be in the first group after the first climbs. When I'm still there I'll try to help the team. In some races I'll get my own chances in the final, but it's normal that I'll have to work for the team in a bigger race than Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. That's absolutely no problem for me."
Which race are you most excited about?
"Paris-Roubaix is without doubt my favorite. I really like cobbles and it's close from where I live. Last year I had a very good feeling during that race. I was part of the first group until the moment I got involved in a crash on a cobbled section. After the section I noticed my wheel was loose, so I had to fix that. Unfortunately I never saw the first group back. It was very chaotic, but that's what makes it beautiful. It's my dream to win that race at least once in my career."
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will be the first race in your new outfit. How does it feel to ride in the most beautiful kit of the peloton?
"I'm the first Belgian rider ever at the team, which means not everyone recognises me when I'm training on my home roads, but it feels amazing. It's a dream to ride in that beautiful jersey and to be part of one of the best teams in the women's peloton."