With his first World Cup of the season coming up, Gosse wrote a blog in which he looks back on his last World Cup and what has happened since then.
I still remember it like it was yesterday… my last World Cup.
It was the legendary World Cup in Namur. I had an unlucky crash on the off camber part already in the first lap. That day the course was very muddy and very heavy, but I felt good. I was so frustrated I got down twice in the first half lap due to other riders around me that I wanted to pass them as soon as possible. I was riding in last place after half a lap. I was thinking to myself ”this isn’t where I want to be, I didn’t come to this races to participate, I come to race and give it my all”. That combination of frustration and ambition made me strong, really strong. I remember having lap times that would’ve put me in the top 20. Instead of that I finished around place 35. When I started my comeback in that race I was riding on a solid 64th place, and that was also the number of riders who started the race.
When I got pulled out of the race by the 80 percent rule I noticed a lot of mud on my legs and some blood. I was thinking to myself ”oooowh, that is just a little scratch”. But then as I didn’t moved my legs anymore my left leg became stiff and I looked a bit closer. It was the first race of the season where my mom was watching and I rolled over to her. Still covered in mud she saw straight away things weren’t going to be pretty. She asked me in a way only a mother could do, ”why didn’t you stop” and I replied ”because of a little scratch?! I didn’t even noticed it”. After cleaning my legs I saw the situation…. in the shower I tried to scratch a ”stone” out of my knee but that one didn’t came out. It turned out that was my kneecap! And I thought it was a small stone..
When they carried me to the emergency tent I could see at the look on that doctor`s face that it wasn’t a good situation. Even though my eyes where already on the next race in a couple of days I got some bad news. The first doctor told me straight away it was over for this season. The damage was so big they couldn’t do anything else then to anesthetize the knee, clean it a bit better and make it possible for me to get to a hospital.
The cleaner my knee became, the more clear it became that this could also mean the end of my career. The complete inside of my knee was looking straight into the world. The only thing left for me to do was just to hope that I didn’t had massive internal damage. Almost everyone who was there that moment after the race and saw the situation thought I would never come back to high level racing. This would’ve been the last World Cup of my career.
And then, all of a sudden I found myself in a difficult position.
After being a contracted bike rider for the past 5 years I’ve told my current team at that moment that I didn’t want to resign. I’ve had a great time at the Belgian Tarteletto-Isorex team and they’ve always been really good to me. They main reason why I didn’t want to resign was that I felt trapped, trapped in double interests. When you race for a Belgian team with Belgian sponsors it is normal that their interest lay in the Belgian races. However my interests where more and more in the Swiss races. Cyclocross has changed a lot during the recent years. More and more of the Belgian races that suited me well got cancelled or stepped out of the big series like Superprestige or DVV trofee. In Switzerland I found the courses that suit me really well as a rider, so I wanted to ride more and more over there.
And there I was: heavily injured rider, no contract and no idea if I would ever make it back to the international elite level. At least that was what most people thought. Actually I was 100% sure I would come back and even better than before. And believe me, an injured athlete has a lot of time to think, but literally A LOT! When I had decided to not resign with the team I was already sure I wanted to start my own project. The one brand who has always been good to me even though I wasn’t even riding their bikes was Bombtrack. By the time I made some calls to hear some opinions about my plans Bombtrack straight away believed in it and they did everything they could to convince me to ride their bikes. At that time in December I got offers from multiple bike brands, but I had already made my decision. My contacts with the brand go back already 3 years before signing, when I was in Berlin for the Berlin Fahradschau where I also competed in the European Single Speed Cyclocross Championships. At that time I could never think of what would happen so many years later.
When a brand signs an injured rider, finds other interested companies and sets up the first steps of the project around you, then you know you’ve found the right persons! The cool thing is that the first photoshoot we did in Cologne was like if you go on an awkward date with a girl. I couldn’t bend my leg and I had those terrible wounds and stitches still in my knee. It was leaking all the time and I knew they would have a big load of Photoshop to do. We had to be really creative with the way I posed in front of the camera.
I think you all remember the time being a kid and getting presents.
That always felt great, I still remember to don’t feel so good about it. In just a few weeks we got a lot of cool companies involved in this cyclocross project around me. But there I was, still laying down 24/7 and I only received boxes. Boxes with bikes, boxes with wheels, boxes with saddles, boxes with bars and stems, boxes with tires, boxes with helmet, boxes with glasses, boxes with clothes, boxes with shoes. Everything I needed was taking care of. And I just sat there opening boxes and not knowing when I could use it. It just didn’t feel good to be getting so much stuff, but not riding. On the other hand, this great support felt like a big push and I knew already before the first races had been ridden that these people believed in me.
This whole project – or team, or company or whatever you want to call it – isn’t supported by brands. It is supported by people! I think the best example for that are the saddles I am riding with. I truly believe in the SelleSMP saddles, but I don’t feel that I am getting sponsored by the company SelleSMP. For me it feels like I am getting supported by the Schiavon family, who started making saddles already three generations ago. Earlier this year I got the chance to visit the company and meet the people in Italy. They took me back to the roots of the company in Padova and later that night we went for a dinner. Still I get the full support and help with everything I do. I am new in the business side of the sport now since I am running my own team and why wouldn’t you reach out to the industry for advice in the way of working. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. If you find the right people around you, you will get help and advice which will bring you further in your life. A sports career is just such a small part of a human life and I just try to enrich myself as much as possible with knowledge and experiences that will help me in the rest of my life.
And see where we are today!
Tomorrow is the first European World Cup of the season in my second home country Switzerland! Without the people around me I would have never made it so far again.
As a bike racer I am beyond happy that there are people who believe in me, who also happen to have a company within the bike industry. So they can help me with the right materials I need and the right knowledge from within the industry to help me further on the business side.
I am beyond grateful to have a number of people around me who just love cycling as much as I do but without a company in the industry. Without bikes you can’t race, but without support in your career you cannot do anything at all. Ever since my first race I have the same group of people around me who help me with whatever I do. From the first races I did as a junior to the first World Cup as an elite nothing has changed in team of people around me. The only thing that changed is that I ride faster and faster every year.
Tomorrow I am back racing in the World Cup. No matter what the results will be, this one will be for all the people who have my back and made it possible to achieve this!