Will Walsleben be the next German cyclocross world champion?
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Monday, January 31, 2011

Will Walsleben be the next German cyclocross world champion?

by Bjorn Haake at 5:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 
Young talent has outstanding ride in 2011 Worlds

Philipp WalslebenPhilipp Walsleben is the biggest cyclocross talent that Germany has had in years. Rolf Wolfshohl, Klaus Peter Thaler and Mike Kluge were the most successful ones, but Kluge's Worlds title dates back to 1992. Walsleben has the talent and willpower to succeed and his fifth place in the 2011 World Championships is a confirmation of his capabilities.

After the race, Walsleben was not too disappointed that he didn't get a medal. His fifth place was what he could do in a difficult tactical situation. "Most races this season I was at the back and there were no tactics - I just had to put my head down and pedal." This time he was in an unusual situation. Together with two Belgians he was chasing the front duo, which also contained a Belgian in Sven Nys. "I really would have needed to ask someone about the tactics during the race."

Racing is about experience, and Walsleben has not had this particular situation before. But he is confident that he will progress in the next few years. "Yes, I think I can race for the Worlds title," he says confidently.

He has already experienced the winning feeling at the 2009 U23 World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. When VeloNation asked him if the elite's race on Sunday was his best race in his career so far, he thought about it for a while. "No, I think it was the U23 Worlds, with the tactics, the way I raced and how I felt. But today was certainly one of the best days I have had." He also enjoyed the support by the spectators. "They were screaming 'Walse, Walse' [his nickname -ed.] all along the course."

After finishing High School in 2007, Walsleben quickly decided to give cyclocross a shot. In 2008, he stayed with a guest family in Belgium, where the cross scene is much more developed than in Germany. "It was the right decision to give it a try," he says three years later. He quickly picked up Flemish and has made himself at home in the region of Flanders. "Here, all the races are nearby," he says about one of the biggest advantages.

Walsleben rides for the BKCP-Powerplus team. "I can learn a lot from Niels Albert," he explains. Walsleben first made an impression in the 2008-2009 season, when he dominated the U23 season. He won six (of eight) Superprestige races and four World Cup races. Despite racing in the U23 category, he opted for the elite men's race in the German championships, which he also won. He became European and World Champion that same season.

A year later he had to race in the elite category and the going was tough at first, but he picked himself up this year. "It was a lot better, I had made more progress." Several times he cracked the top ten and the fifth place on Sunday was the icing on the cake.

From Kevin Pauwels to Sven Nys, his Belgian competitors have taken notice and Nys thinks that in a few years, Walsleben can be the cyclocross World Champion - the same thought that already crossed his mind.

Besides being a world class cross racer, his brother Max also lists Philipp as his coach. Max is three years younger and is also showing good talent in the U23 category, still only 19 years old. In St Wendel, he had a flat tire in the final lap. He ended in 28th place and without the mishap, he may have reached his goal of climbing into the top 20 in his first World Championships. The brothers may well be ensuring a good future for the sport.
 

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