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The cyclocross season has started


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#1 VdB

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 09:44 AM

Well, it's been underway for more than a month already but most of that was smaller preparation races.

We've already seen 2 world cup races (both in the Czech Republic), the first of which - Plzn - was won by veteran champion Nys with a flash of talent in the final corner. He dove into an almost non-existing space between Stybar and the barrier and took a few metres, enough to win his 44th (!!) WC race. Also notice the disgraceful incident at the start of the race, where a dumb camera guy blocks Albert and a few others.

http://www.sporza.be...alink/1.1133841

The second WC race in Tabor was won by one of the up and coming riders, Kevin Pauwels. He beat home rider Stybar after almost the entire cyclocross peloton was waiting for him to close the gap on his own, which he obviously refused to do. Pauwels managed to stay away and is the new leader in the World Cup.

http://www.sporza.be...alink/1.1139334

The Superprestige started too, with Albert winning the first race in Ruddervoorde. The story here is that Roger De Vlaeminck openly accused Albert of not living professionally enough before the race, and Albert answered with a win. De Vlaeminck has since apologized to Albert for his remark.

The 3rd important ranking, the GVA Trophy, is yet to start.

When looking at the big names this season we can see that it's mostly the same as last year: Nys, Stybar, Albert and Pauwels. However, I think the races will be much more open...last year Stybar opened the season winning almost everywhere until he had his knee troubles and focused on the Worlds. I believe that without his knee injury he would have dominated the entire season. But...he didn't really take a break this summer and rode an extensive road program, and is planning to be in shape for the spring classics next season. Chances are he won't be on top form this season.

Nys is Nys...the consummate professional, the technically superior rider with bags and bags of experience. But at 35 he's starting to feel the years. Given his lifestyle, regularity and sheer class, he'll still be a contender for all the overall rankings this season. He may even win more than last season without a super Stybar. But overall he is on the decline.

Albert is a bit of a mystery. After 2 so-so season filled with injuries and some controversy (he was accused of arrogance and being a dumb rider) it will remain to be seen what he does, but the man has so much class that I would find it surprising if he didn't have a great season provided he stays healthy. He's still too irregular to be a lock for the overall competitions, compared to a Nys or Pauwels anyway, but he'll probably win at least one of them.

Pauwels is the new name at the top. Last season he pretty much set the last steps to the Big Leagues, and this season he confirmed with a 2nd and 1st place in the first two WC races. While clearly a very strong and regular rider, he's also incredibly boring. But that also means very regular, so...I sometimes wished he was more charismatic like Albert, but he already made huge leaps since his early career when he was so shy he almost always answered questions with "yes" and "no". At least he's comfortable enough to make actual sentences now. :lol:

As for the rest...Vantornhout will win a few races as he does every season, Aernouts will probably do another decent season and Wellens will continue his 'second' career (the crappy part) as sole leader of Fidea now that both Stybar and Pauwels left the team. All the other riders seem to be destined for a season of mediocrity. With Boom gone, there doesn't seem anyone left to break the Belgian-Czech hegemony either. Mourey always does well in the WC races ad may win one, but that's just about it really.

In the youngster department there's Tom Meeusen and the French espoirs world champ Arnaud Jouffroy, both very promising riders but too young to make their mark already. Both are learning the ropes at Fidea.

The season looks very interesting, with the world championships in Belgium in Koksijde (a sand parcours) as its apotheosis. I can't wait. :) On a personal level, I love the new WC race on the Citadelle de Namur on the 18th. ;)
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#2 Burkni

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Posted 26 October 2011 - 02:51 PM

The Superprestige started too, with Albert winning the first race in Ruddervoorde. The story here is that Roger De Vlaeminck openly accused Albert of not living professionally enough before the race, and Albert answered with a win. De Vlaeminck has since apologized to Albert for his remark.

I thought I read somewhere that Albert also answered with a bottle of Champagne ... was that not correct?

The season looks very interesting, with the world championships in Belgium in Koksijde (a sand parcours) as its apotheosis. I can't wait. :) On a personal level, I love the new WC race on the Citadelle de Namur on the 18th. ;)

I saw Nys quoted that the WChamps were finally on a REAL parcours ...
Agree with the Namur race - that and Koppenberg have to be the coolest ones :)

I think you actually have to be Belgian ... scratch that ... Flemish to understand what makes Overijse, Hooglede-Gits and such courses so classical and spectacular, but with the link to road races, the Namur and Koppenberg have instant appeal.
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#3 VdB

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Posted 28 October 2011 - 02:13 AM

I thought I read somewhere that Albert also answered with a bottle of Champagne ... was that not correct?


True! But that was a while ago already (De Vlaeminck has been on Albert's case for a while already). Albert was given a bottle of champagne at the Superprestige opening event and gave it to (former world champ) Paul Herijgers, telling him to take it to De Vlaeminck. :bigsmile:

I saw Nys quoted that the WChamps were finally on a REAL parcours ...
Agree with the Namur race - that and Koppenberg have to be the coolest ones :)

I think you actually have to be Belgian ... scratch that ... Flemish to understand what makes Overijse, Hooglede-Gits and such courses so classical and spectacular, but with the link to road races, the Namur and Koppenberg have instant appeal.


True...I would argue that most of those races (though not all) are designed much better or at least with more creativity than abroad though. Almost every big race abroad is the same...very fast and not technical. The amount of important foreign races that aren't on grassy plains or rocky sand can be counted almost on one hand. Races in Belgium tend to include muddy or sandy parts and usually aren't afraid of introducing new elements. In fact, sand parcours are an almost exclusive Belgian thing these days. Stybar, being the motivated talent that he is, actually trained with a few sand greats to learn the ropes and is now one of the better riders on those races, but other than him there seem to be very few foreigners that know how to ride in it.

P.S. the SP race in Zonhoven this weekend will include the new 'sand pit' they found near the old parcours. Basically a natural pit with a spectacular sandy descent/climb every round. Looks wicked cool. :)

http://www.superprestigezonhoven.be/ (click 'parcours' left and you'll see a pic of the pit)
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#4 VdB

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 04:52 AM

Some footage from the Zonhoven 'sand pit'. It doesn't tell you too much about the incredible sandy descent (can't really see them descend) but you can see a similar uphill really will. And the atmosphere, which is great. :)




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#5 Burkni

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:05 PM

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#6 Burkni

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 03:27 AM

Has anyone checked out Nys' dodgy sprint agains Pauwels?
Relegation should have been the order of the day IMO :unsure:
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#7 N.B.O.L.

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 08:18 AM

Has anyone checked out Nys' dodgy sprint agains Pauwels?
Relegation should have been the order of the day IMO :unsure:

I've seen nothing but still photos. Do you have a link to some video?
Never mind, clicked on the right area in what you posted.

Hey he only changed his line a little bit.

Definition of "a little bit": The entire width of the track.

Edited by N.B.O.L., 28 November 2011 - 08:21 AM.

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#8 Burkni

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Posted 28 November 2011 - 12:34 PM

Definition of "a little bit": The entire width of the track.

:icon_up:
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#9 VdB

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 05:32 AM

little late to the party, but I didn't think there was anything overly wrong with Nys' sprinting. Sure, it wasn't orthodox, but I didn't feel he crossed a line either. He played his role of 'wily old champ' to perfection. And on a 'hindsight is 20/20' note, Nys beat Pauwels fair and square in another 2-man sprint a week later in Koksijde. ;)
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#10 Burkni

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 01:36 PM

And Nys takes both races this weekends, including super-prestigious (although not a Super-Prestige race :) Overijse.
You really have to hand it to the guy, he is so consistent over the past 9-10 seasons that it is plain ridiculous :blink:
In just about every season since then, either Nys has been the guy to beat or the second best. He has seen the reigns of Groenendaal, Wellens, Boom, Stybar and never not been a top contender.
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#11 VdB

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 07:17 AM

I probably gushed on him before, but Nys is someone I have the deepest respect for both as a person and as a rider. Never aggressive, always considerate and well-spoken, and the consummate professional. Also, his efforts on the Mountainbike while keeping with the CX best. He's also one of the only riders, perhaps the only, in the entire professional cycling scene of who I confidently dare say that he is and always has been clean, even when the EPO-fueled riders raged around him. Add to that his legendary technique and monstrous palmares, and well...it's hard not to like him! :icon_up:

Posted Image


P.S. it's too bad Nys participated in the early 2000's Paris-Roubaix's, when EPO was still more rampant. He did well but always faded out towards the end. I'm convinced that he could have made a much bigger impression in this day and age, but you can't turn back time.
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#12 Burkni

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 08:30 AM

That is a great pic ... judging from it, Nys should have won that race if not for his mechanical. Certainly hope he is clean. He is a bit like Erik Zabel, who was labelled a 'workaholic' on the bike :helmet:
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#13 Burkni

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 03:49 PM

Happy day, eh VdB? :)
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#14 VdB

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 07:19 AM

:lol: You're damn sure it was! WHo'd have thought Bart would actually come out and win a big one anymore! He did kinda profit from the others' misfortune and their focusing on the Namur cross the next day, but hell, great stuff!

Nys is slowly crawling towards and over Pauwels in the different rankings now that the rain has started falling and the courses are becoming tougher and more technical. :helmet: I love it. While I harbor no particular dislike for Pauwels, he's so uncharismatic that it's hard not to root for Nys. Also, a massive race from Albert who onyl just came back out of injury.

Good video images here...really shows how hard Namur really was. The men's race starts at 2.14, the first part are the women (Albert in the Belgian jersey)


War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#15 Burkni

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 01:52 AM

Good video images here...really shows how hard Namur really was. The men's race starts at 2.14, the first part are the women (Albert in the Belgian jersey)

Best.Race.Ever!!!!

It is just too glaringly obvious that every single contestant is one his very limit! No tactics, no tomfoolery, just a question of who has the most steel in him, and the answer is no surprise B)
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#16 VdB

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Posted 23 December 2011 - 06:21 AM

Best.Race.Ever!!!!

It is just too glaringly obvious that every single contestant is one his very limit! No tactics, no tomfoolery, just a question of who has the most steel in him, and the answer is no surprise B)


Yeah, I loved how he just rode away from Albert at the end who just went into shutdown mode after all that mud plowing. :lol: When watching epic stuff like this, I always wonder what it would look like to show this to people who came into the sport on the TdF and road cycling..."wait they're running up a steep hill, full of mud, while carrying their bikes? And then ride their bikes back down said muddy hill at serious speeds?!"
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#17 Burkni

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 01:52 PM

So is anyone betting against Albert taking his second world title?
All that guy needs is a season-threatening injury to hit absolute top form :unsure:
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#18 VdB

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 11:07 AM

So is anyone betting against Albert taking his second world title?
All that guy needs is a season-threatening injury to hit absolute top form :unsure:


Haha, so true! But I wouldn't count out Nys yet - he's the best sand rider of them all. And Stybar is playing it low-key by dropping out of races here and there, so I don't count him out either. But an Albert at cruise speed who, unlike Nys, can afford to let it slide a little to focus on the Worlds is always dangerous. :unsure:

'Controversy' in the little CX world btw: after several riders (Pauwels, Vantornhout, Albert etc) called off for the race in Leuven saying they are sick, Nys - who won the race - called them out on their lack of professionalism and resonsibility towards the organizers. For a little context, Leuven is not part of one of the three big rankings (World Cup, GVA, Superprestige) and many other similar races have been skipped by riders this season to make sure they are in top form for the 'important' races. So a few time aren't really sick but use it as an excuse to get out from under their contract for the small race, which is what Nys is berating.

Nys' words, translated:

"It's not pretty, the way some colleagues are treating the organizers of the small races. Those last-minute forfaits are a disgrace. It's a sad constatation, but apparently professionalism has some correlation with age after all. Riders like me and Bart Wellens always respect the arrangements we've made. Bart and I give our best in every race, even the so-called 'loose' ones [note: he means not part of a ranking].

I wish I could say the same about a few other riders. Don't they realize they're putting their own future at risk? Because who wants a season that's nothing but races that are part of a general ranking? No one, right? I'm sure that some of them are actually ill, but the way people called off for races this week wasn't normal. While I was working myself into a sweat in Leuven, Albert and Pauwels were watching it on TV.

So I'm expecting to get a lot of opposition from Niels and Kevin when I'll be racing in my hometown of Baal on New Year's Day [note: GP Sven Nys, part of the GVA trophy]. But at least I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning. If I think a race won't fit in my racing schedule, I'll make sure I let the organizers know in time. That's not old-fashioned, but a matter of common courtesy and professionalism."

Bam! Respect X 2! :helmet: You tell 'em Sven!
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#19 VdB

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 06:23 AM

And now Nys is destroying everyone in Baal :bigsmile:
War. War never changes. The end of the world occurred pretty much as we had predicted: Too many humans, not enough space or resources to go around. The details are trivial and pointless, the reasons, as always, purely human ones.

#20 Burkni

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 06:41 AM

And now Nys is destroying everyone in Baal :bigsmile:

He has a gap of 1:15 with 3 laps to go :blink: :lol: :unsure:

Too bad for him that the WChamps aren't held on Jan 1 in Baal every year ...

Albert looks hung over to me!
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