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Mental health is as important as physical health in any sport. It is very crucial to take care of both aspects. Lotte Kopecky emerged as the dominant favourite at the UCI Road World Championships in Glasgow. She exuded unwavering confidence, determined not to let nerves hinder her performance. Her resolute demeanour carried her through the race, where she left the remaining contenders in her wake and clinched a resounding victory.

However, Kopecky’s tough exterior finally gave way when facing the cameras. Tears welled up as she spoke, though she sidestepped directly addressing her brother’s tragic passing in March.

The pain that the mind endures

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In response to inquiries during the press conference, she simply stated, “You can stay home and sit on your sofa or you get out and get the work done and I chose the second.”

The peloton comprised a mix of emotions. Marlen Reusser of Switzerland withdrew during the time trial, citing mental fatigue and a waning desire to push herself. Remarkably, she managed to overcome these sentiments in the subsequent women’s race, demonstrating an unwavering determination to secure a spot on the podium for her country.

Annemiek van Vleuten highlighted the increasing professionalism in women’s cycling, with more athletes adopting altitude training camps to enhance their performance. However, gold medalist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and silver medalist Demi Vollering, representing the Netherlands, shed light on the pressures accompanying these changes.

Ludwig commended Reusser’s candour, praising her courage in addressing the mental aspect of cycling. She acknowledged that mental strength is a pivotal component of the sport, with individual experiences varying. Some riders may find it easier, while others require support from mental coaches or trusted confidants to navigate the pressures and expectations, both external and self-imposed.

Ludwig’s emotions were palpable as she discussed the challenges of the season. She highlighted the personal battles all athletes endure, emphasizing the gruelling nature of cycling at the highest level. The extensive calendar, coupled with the dilemma of selecting events and finding time for family and recuperation, can drain one’s mental energy, affecting the hunger for victory. There are also some, who shared about seeking help in these mental situations.

Conditioning your mental health

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Vollering, a triumphant force with victories in Spring Classics, the Dutch championship, and the Tour de France Femmes admitted to seeking guidance from a mental coach. She shared her recent doubts about her motivation and how discussing such matters with an impartial mental coach provides a valuable outlet. This enables her to regain focus and motivation for races, especially after the Tour de France, a monumental event that both liberates and challenges athletes.

Vollering acknowledged the difficulties of balancing intense racing and training schedules, including lengthy altitude camps spanning three weeks. She reflected on the importance of finding equilibrium. Personal experiences, such as a brief family holiday after the Tour, can play a vital role in maintaining mental resilience and preventing burnout, as demonstrated by her journey.

Also, read: Tragic Cycling Accident Claims 81-Year-Old’s Life After Fatal Injuries

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In conclusion, the UCI Road World Championships in Glasgow revealed the multifaceted emotional landscape within the peloton. While Kopecky’s unwavering determination led her to victory, athletes like Reusser, Ludwig, and Vollering shed light on the mental challenges accompanying the pursuit of excellence in professional cycling. Their stories underscore the significance of mental strength and the supportive networks that help riders overcome obstacles and remain focused on their goals.

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