Wellens: “I have a lot of work to do”
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Wellens: “I have a lot of work to do”

by Ben Atkins at 12:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross

Despite his impressive fifth place in the World Cup race in Igorre, Spain last weekend, Bart Wellens knows that he still has a long way to go, as his 13th place in Sunday’s race at Overijsse would indicate. The former Belgian and World Champion missed the first half of the season suffering from cytomegalovirus, a disease with symptoms similar to mononucleosis.

"That fifth place in the World Cup competition of Igorre was a bit abnormal," said Bart Wellens to the Gazet van Antwerpen. "I was there when I looked left and realized only too well that I just could not pull through to the front of the line. A comeback is always associated with ups and downs; this also applies to me."

Wellens’ comeback was slightly earlier than originally planned and his first race was the World Cup at Koksijde, Belgium on November 28th. Despite great expectations, he has yet to return to the front of the pack with World Champion Niels Albert, teammate Zdenek Stybar and old rival Sven Nys.

"There were some who thought that I would soon close the gap to the top,” he said, “but the reality is different. I have a lot of work to do. I hope to be back on level for the Belgian and World Championships in January."

“There is still work to do,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, “a lot of work, and I realized that. Actually, this is a logical result. Tom Steels, who accompanies me, had told me that I wouldn't be to top form again until January [Steels suffered from a similar disease during his road career – ed]."

As one of the most successful and popular riders of the current generation, Wellens realises that a lot of race organisers would like him on their start lines. He doesn’t want to let them down, he says, but hopes they will be patient with him as he recovers.

“In this sport there are no miracles,” he said. “I hope the organisers can now understand why at the moment I can only ride one race per weekend. What would have happened if I had ridden in Essen [on Saturday]? I knew this would be beyond me, but still wanted to start here [in Overijse] because this is a very nice race.”


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