Emma Hinze says she becomes a different person on the track ahead of the second round of the UCI Track Champions League.
“When I go on the track, when it’s competition time. I switch like that. I’m not the Emma that I am off it. I think I’m really different. I take it really seriously, and I want to win,” she said.
If Hinze is feeling the heat of leading the sprint classification, she’s not showing it.
Speaking on the eve of the second round, which takes place in Panevezys, Lithuania on Saturday, the smiling German star told Eurosport’s Orla Chennaoui that she has no plans to change the tactics that worked so well for her in Mallorca, and certainly won’t be playing it safe. “I’ll just try to do my best, like last time,” she says.
Nor does it sound like she’s too concerned about her closest rival. Canada’s Kelsey Mitchell took sprint gold at this summer’s Olympics, with Hinze just missing out on the medals, and is in second place in the Champions League standings, just two points behind the 24-year-old.
“In Tokyo she was really strong,” says Hinze, “and able to maintain a high speed for a long time. I couldn’t keep up. But now I feel better than [I did] in Tokyo so I know I can go at high speed for a long time too.”
In her view, the decisive factor was less one of brawn than brain:
My legs were better in Tokyo but my head wasn’t. So I couldn’t show what I trained for. I’m now more with my head, which is really important for a good performance.
Of greater concern for Hinze is the rider sitting in third place in the table, Lea Friedrich.
The pair are not just team-mates, but good friends as well, which makes it even more difficult when they face each other in competition, as they frequently do.
“It’s really hard because we race together in the team sprint,” says Hinze. “But the other days we are rivals. It’s hard to change the mindset, but afterwards we are always friends. It’s not like we don’t talk if the other one wins. As hard as it is, we try to be happy for them.”
From a racing perspective, Hinze disagrees with the suggestion that it might be easier to go up against someone so familiar:
It’s even harder to race against team-mates, because although you know all of them, they also know all of you.
With much shorter gaps between races than they’re used to, the lack of recovery time has been raised as a consideration the athletes may need to take into greater account – especially for the sprinters, who may not be able to go as deep as they normally would.
That doesn’t appear to be too much of a concern for Hinze, for whom a more practical problem presented itself in Mallorca.
“It was quite hard because the breaks were really short and we didn’t have a lot of time between races. Lea [Friedrich] and I had to change skinsuits, because we are world champion in the sprint and keirin. It was kind of hard,” she adds.
The second round of racing in the Cido Arena should be easier in that respect, as Hinze gets to stay in the leader’s jersey for the entire evening. For all the wardrobe advantages, however, she’s still a little disappointed because, as she says:
I love my rainbow jersey.
The UCI Track Champions League returns for round two on November 27 and you can watch all of the action live on the Eurosport app, eurosport.co.uk and discovery+. Find out more about the “mind-blowing” new era for track cycling.