Cyclocross stars upset over Superprestige Diegem late start
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cyclocross stars upset over Superprestige Diegem late start

by Ben Atkins at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
Traditional floodlit race pushed back to 7:30pm because of day change

sven nysThe start time of Friday’s Superprestige race in Diegem, to the north of Brussels, Belgium, is causing some consternation among the stars of Cyclocross, according to Sporza. The elite men’s race, which is traditionally run under artificial floodlights, has been moved back by two hours, from its usual start of 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

The Diegem race is usually held on the last Sunday of the year, but since that will be Christmas Day this year, the decision was made to move it forward to Friday; which is where the problem has arisen.

“Because Sunday is Christmas, we decided to move to Friday night,” race organiser Francis Bosschaerts said to Het Laatste Nieuws. “Since that’s a working day we can only start at 7:30; that’s two hours later than in previous years, but we can only close the course in the afternoon.”

With this year’s programme also including a women’s race – which will be first on the bill at 3pm – there is little time to squeeze all of the events in once the course is closed. The junior race is to start at 4pm, the under-23 “beloften” at 5:30, so, allowing for warm ups and course reconnaissance, the elite men will have to wait until 7:30.

This has not impressed some of the sport’s stars, however, who say that it will force them into a late night in the busiest period of their season.

“7:30 is too late,” said ten-time Superprestige winner and current series leader Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). “You’re waiting around all day and, when you’re finally about to fall asleep, you have to start the race. You don’t get home until close to midnight, and then your body is still full of adrenalin, so you can’t sleep.

“I find this very annoying,” he continued. “I understand the organiser; in daytime he’d maybe only draw around half the audience. But next time I’d rather just ride the race on Christmas Day.”

Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) is similarly unimpressed, and for similar reasons to Nys; in fact, it’s slightly worse for Vantornout, since he will have a lot further to travel home afterwards.

“I’m a morning person and, like most athletes, I go to sleep early,” he said. “I’ll be creeping on other days so that I can spend more time in bed. I won’t be home before midnight.

"Also, we’ll have done an hour at our maximum not long before and our body won’t be recovered when we crawl into bed,” he added. “I think this is unhealthy and totally irresponsible. This is okay for one time, but it should not happen twice."

The last two editions of the race have been won by Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus); with the Belgian champion returned from injury this weekend on good form, taking two second places in his first races back; behind Brat Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) in the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee race in Essen on Saturday, and behind Nys in the Namur World Cup on Sunday.

Nys leads the series by five points, over World champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step); with “Mr Superprestige” enjoying his best form of the season so far, he will be tough to beat under the lights on Diegem on Friday.


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