David Haverdings about his strong season after having anorexia: “I did not expect this at all”

The differences between 2020 and 2021 couldn’t be any bigger for David Haverdings. Last year he had anorexia and was forced to take time off the bike to recover, this year he is leading the world cup and looks to be the top favorite for the world championships. In an interview on the cyclocross social podcast he talks about it all.

It’s just before the start of the 2020/21 cyclocross season when David begins to feel unwell. He is very tired most of the time and doesn’t feel strong anymore on training. Its something he didn’t expect, because prior to the season he dropped a lot of weight to be in the best condition possible when the season began. However, in his ambition to be as good as possible at the start of the season, he had gone to far. He lost 20kg and was only weighing 50kg.

David needed to take time off the bike and got help from a dietician to get rid of his anorexia. It worked, because at the end of the year he was able to pick up training again. Since he was unfit to race, the fact that there was near enough no junior racing didn’t hamper him.

Over the summer David worked hard to be fit and healthy at the beginning of this season. Because he didn’t have a reference for himself from last season, he did not know what to expect. His goal was to make the squad for a world cup at least once in the season.

Image: Yefrifotos, Haverdings winning in Baal

David had however vastly underestimated himself. In his first race of the season a mechanical issue still prevented him from winning the race, but he strook back in Gieten. He led from start to finish and won the race.

Three weeks later in Zonhoven, he beat Aaron Dockx, for he first time in his young career. Dockx has for years been almost unbeatable in the Belgian cyclocross scene.

David went on to win all races between Gieten and the European championships. He started the European championship as the big favorite, but the pressure and nerves got the better of him. Despite leading in the early stages of the race, he quickly faded and was forced to fight for second, a place that he eventually claimed.

That second place was a major disappointment for him, but he bounced back in the rest of the season. He won nine out of ten races he started. In total this means he won 14/17 races this year!

All these wins put him in the same position for the world championships as he was in for the European championships. David however thinks he learnt from the European championships. At the EC he still had the thought that one race would make or break his season. Now he however already realizes that two bad championships won’t compromise his complete season, which was very successful.

His success didn’t go unnoticed, as multiple teams were interested in him for next season. He chose to sign with the Baloise-Trek Lions, as their multidisciplinary approach was something David really liked. Besides the cyclocross bike, he also hopes to excel on the MTB and road bike in the future.

Image: Yefrifots, Haverdings (third) racing in Namur

But first his focus is completely on the world championships in Fayetteville. For David, its not a perfect course. He likes technical features, and he thinks there is a lack of them in Fayetteville. That’s why he hopes that there will be a bit of rain just before the start. He thinks that in those slippery conditions it will be easier to open a gap over his competitors. However, he has throughout the season proven to be capable of winning on every track, but David thinks that people speak to easily about him winning the world title. Throughout the season he has strong opposition from other riders. The gaps don’t always reflect that, but he thinks that the race might be closer than many people think.

With the current weather conditions in Fayetteville, Davis expects a fast race in which it will be difficult to open a gap over his opponents. He thinks that Aaron Dockx will be his main opponent because: ‘Aaron is always there on championships. He might have been struggling in recent races, but I am sure we hill there’. Other riders he sees as big challengers are; The British rider Nathan Smith, who was leading Namur until he got a puncture, the Pan-American Jack Spranger, the Belgian Champion Yordi Corsus and the French champion Louka Lesueur.

David is obviously aiming for the world title, but at the same time says: ’I obviously want to win, but my season was a lot better than expected. I won 14 races already, so if I get a medal at the world championships, I will be happy.’ He hopes that with this easier mindset he will be able to cope with the pressure better than he did at the European championships.

As final preparation for the world championships Haverdings will be racing the world cup in Flamanville, although he already secured the overall win, and the X2o trophy race in Hamme. Meanwhile he will do everything he can to stay safe from the Covid-19 virus, as that would mean he could not race the world championships. ‘I have already had a dream a couple of times now that I test positive the day after Hoogerheide, so I hope my nightmare doesn’t become reality.’

A win at the world championships would be the crown on a fantastic season for David. He races the junior men race on the 30th of January at 11AM local time, and 6PM CET.

You can listen to the full interview with David Haverdings in episode 55 of the Cyclocross Social Podcast, it is available on all audio platforms.