Belgium announces cyclocross Worlds team; Sven Nys doubts they’ll work together
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Belgium announces cyclocross Worlds team; Sven Nys doubts they’ll work together

by Ben Atkins at 11:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, World Championships
With a number of riders capable of winning and no common enemy the top riders will likely race against one another

sven nysBelgian national cyclocross coach Rudy De Bie has announced the seven-man elite squad for the World Championships in St-Wendel, Germany at the end of this month. There are few surprises, with the top seven Belgians in the International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings included in the team, including three former World champions.

The top three riders in yesterdays World Cup race in Pontchâteau, France – Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) – are currently the top three in the World. If the winner is to be a Belgian it is likely to be one of these three, although Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) has shown that he already knows how to win on the big occasions, including the Kalmthout, Belgium round of the World Cup.

Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant) and Klaas Vantournout (Sunweb-Revor) have been at the front of virtually every big race of the year, although the big results have eluded both riders.

The one doubt for the race is two-time World champion Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea); the 32-year-old’s form has been steadily improving throughout the season, but he was forced to abandon Sunday’s Pontchâteau race with a groin injury that he picked up in Otegem last week.

Should Wellens, or any of the others, be unable to ride, De Bie has named three reserves in the shape of Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) and cousins Dieter (BKCP-Powerplus) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Projob). Even among these three though, Sven Vanthourenhout would be unlikely to be fit to ride; the 30-year-old’s indifferent season got worse on Sunday when he pulled a hamstring running up the shallow steps of the Pontchâteau course.

Seven riders, seven captains, zero co-operation?

When World number one Sven Nys was asked by a French journalist at Sunday’s post-race pres conference if the Belgians would be working together in St-Wendel, the Kannibaal van Baal was doubtful. With so many potential winners in the team it would be too much to ask for any of those egos to be subservient to the others.

"A Belgian coalition?” Nys replied, according to Sporza. “That would be difficult, very difficult. We simply have a number of riders that can be world champion.

“In Hoogerheide, in 2009, there was a coalition,” he explained. “But there was Lars Boom [of the Netherlands] to take care of. Boom had stepped on our toes, shouted too much that he would win. He challenged us so much that there was a spontaneous conspiracy between all of the Belgians.”

Niels Albert was the benefactor of the Belgian coalition on that day. The then 22-year-old attacked early on and managed to stay away as his compatriots blocked any attempted chase.  Boom had been neutralised, and Nys only gave chase when there was no way he would be dragging any of Belgiums enemies across.

This year the big threat to a Belgian victory is reigning World champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea); although Nys has been openly critical of Styby’s decision to opt out of Sunday’s Pontchâteau race in order to save himself for St-Wendel, the Czech rider has not stirred up the ire of the Belgians nearly so much.

“It’s not comparable,” Nys explained. “Stybar talks less, he doesn’t lay down challenges to us.”

Whether or not the Belgians will work together, or whether they’ll chase each other down and gift the win to a rival (much like the Italians used to do in the road Worlds) we will just have to wait and see.

“That will depend on how the race goes,” said Nys. “I hope everyone uses their common sense.”

Belgium team for Cyclocross World Championships:
Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Klaas Vantournout (Sunweb-Revor), Tom Meeusen, Kevin Pauwels and Bart Wellens (all Telenet-Fidea)

Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea), Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor)


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