Cameron Mason hopes to follow the steps of his former teammate Tom Pidcock, and become world champion U23 at the end of this month. In an interview on The cyclocross social podcast he said that based on his very good season, he thinks the world title is a realistic goal. You can listen to the full interview as a podcast on any audio platform!
Cameron Mason came into this season after suffering from an incredible amount of bad luck. Last cyclocross season he broke his collarbone, just when he recovered from that he had an irritation to his meniscus that caused him to miss last years world championships in Ostend. But that was not everything, just as he got ready to race a couple of mountain bike world cups, he crashed and broke his arm. He needed months to recover from that.
Luckily for Cameron, there were still months until the cyclocross season got underway. Cameron put a lot of hard work into his recovery, and it showed when he was allowed to ride his bike again. He had a relatively short, but strong road campaign. He won a local race, and put in a good ride at the national championships. In the pouring rain, he was able to keep up with the leading group until the final stages of the race. Cameron eventually ended 29th.
Great start to the season
Following these injuries Cameron didn’t know what to expect going into the season. He wanted top use the first races to figure out what was already right, and which things he still needed to work on throughout the rest of the season. In the first races of the season, it was already clear that most things were already right. In just his third race of the season Cameron ended 9th between the elites in the world cup of Overijse.
In the rest of the season Cameron won the world cup in Dendermonde and stood on the podium of a handful of other U23 races. These results gave Cameron the confidence that he has a realistic shot at the world title, something that he thought was out of reach a couple of seasons ago.
The championships Cameron raced this year have given him a lot of new insights in how to deal with situations around championships. The European championships on the VAM-berg taught him that he should sometimes let go of his prerace idea. Going into the race he had a picture in his head of the course that it was super hard, and that it would be just like the Koppenberg. After the course pre-ride he saw that the course wasn’t actually that hard, but still he raced as if it was. He used every opportunity there was to try and drop his opposition, because in his mind he was thinking surely, they will crack the next time. Doing all this work eventually resulting in him missing out on the podium and ending 6th.
World title as big goal
A week later in Tabor, Cameron already used the insights he had gained on the VAM-berg. On a fast course he ended third, due to better energy management.
This result has given Cameron the belief that regardless of the course conditions in Fayetteville, he has a chance of winning the world title. Despite all these good results, Cameron also acknowledges that it will be difficult to win. He expects severe opposition from the Dutch riders: Ronhaar, Kamp and Hendrikx, and the Belgian riders: Michels, Verstrynge, Wyseure and Nys, depending on how he recovers.
Mason thinks that the course conditions will be key to which riders are at the front, and what type of race there will be. Mason is one of only a few U23 riders who has been consistently at the front throughout the entire season regardless of the type of course. He would however prefer muddy conditions, similar to what we saw in Fayetteville world cup earlier this year. In muddy conditions like that, he could race around around his threshold power throughout the entire race. That is his preferred approach to a race, because his biggest strength is being able to keep his lap times consistent throughout the race. If it were to be a fast race, he would take a different approach, and save as much energy as possible.
Currently Cameron thinks he is around the same form level as he had at the beginning of December. He hopes to reach the same form as he had in Dendermonde. To do that, he will be skipping the final U23 world cup in Flamanville, so he can do a solid block of training. The cancellation of the U23 race in Hoogerheide did make him doubt that decision, but he prioritizes a potential world title over a potential world cup win.
After his training block Cameron will race Hamme and the elite race in Hoogerheide, before flying to Fayetteville. He will arrive there on Monday. Dealing with pressure and stress will then be something important for him, its something that he learnt at the British championships where pressure did influence him. Cameron figures that focusing on the joy of racing, rather than the result and what’s on the line, helps him stay calm. To do that at the world championships he will be mainly doing endurance rides in the states, and relax when he isn’t on the bike. He also won’t do an unnecessary amount of course practice, a couple of laps on Friday and on Saturday are enough for him.
On raceday itself he wont change anything in his usual preparation, because his usual preparation works good for him. He will give it his everything to try and become just the 6th brit ever to win a world title in any cyclocross category.
Regardless of the result at the world championships Cameron can look back on a successful season. Next year he will be leaving Trinity racing, as they are an U23 team, and Cameron becomes an elite next season. His results this season has resulted in multiple teams being interested in his services for next year. Amongst the teams that are interested in him, there are some road teams. Cameron was surprised that these teams were interested in him, but doesn’t want to become a full-time road rider. He hopes to keep combining cyclocross with MTB and road racing in the future, and wants a team that can fully support him in all three disciplines.
You can listen to the full interview with Cameron Mason in episode 54 of the Cyclocross Social Podcast, it is available on all audio platforms.