Hello 2012! It was going to be an interesting day as Zdenek Stybar was about to reveal his new team kit and his new Specialized bike and BKCP was also due to switch to Colnagos. There were some rumors that the Landbouwkrediet team might change to Scott bikes, but either misunderstood something or the deal fell through, either way, Sven Nys paraded on his good old Colnago.
That being said, he and the rest of his team sported a new, predominantly green jersey, but the fasion-related star of the day was clearly Stybar, who wore a pink fedora while riding up and down, right before the start. Check to photo below. His performance was less stellar but he has probably already set his eyes on preparing for the road season. On the other hand, it was great to see Bart Wellens riding strong, his third place looks promising for next weeks Belgian National Champs.
All in all, it was a great way to start the year – there are still 10 more races until the season ends, so plenty more opportunities for great pictures. I’m returning to London tomorrow morning and will head up to Ipswich on Sunday to find out who will be crowned as the British Champion. It will be a good one, that’s for sure!
Consistent riding can get you far. Micki Van Empel hasn't won any of the U23 GVA races this season but he has been so consistent that he is now leading the rankings, with only two races to go.
Another one in the bag for Lars Van Der Haar. Now he's trailing with only two points behind Van Empel in the overall, so at this point he seems to be the most likely winner of the U23 GVA rankings.
Sanne Van Paassen and Sophie De Boer attacked early in the women's race.
In the absence of Marianne Vos, Daphny Van Den Brand dominated the race and established her lead early on.
Nikki Harris flew to another podium place today - great performance, she is looking strong with just a week before the British National Champs.
Gabby Day had a good day as well, finishing sixth - she will be another strong contenter at the British National Champs.
Nikoline Hansen in her last lap, her left knee wasn't still 100% - hopefully it will be ok for the Danish National Champs.
Pauline Ferrand Prevot showed off her new Rabobank colours - and she clearly hadn't seen any youtube videos, that teach you how to get off your bike (right leg in front of your left leg) during a cyclo-cross race.
The picture of the day - Zdenek Stybar proudly shows his new team colours. It's unusual and it's bold and I like it a lot.
Imagine an slight incline, then two large steps, imagine that this is all very, very muddy. Then look at this photo again - these guys jumped the stairs like it was nothing. Amazing.
Thijs Al cuts through the mud.
Even though Stybar became THE fashion icon of the cyclo-cross lot in one fell swoop, this wasn't his day. He surged to the front on his brand new Spesh ride but then he ran out of steam and finished fourth, ten seconds down from Bart Wellens.
Kevin Pauwels is often categorised as a subpar bike handler when it comes to riding in the mud but he is clearly getting better at it.
Sven Nys bagged another impressive win - his winning margin was 46 seconds. He is very, very strong, the question is whether he can hold onto his form and the winning formula for the next couple of weeks.
These logs look small on this photo but they are HUGE in reality and what's mind-blowing is that most of the top10 guys jump through them even in the last lap.
After giving up the race on Friday, Bart Wellens was back with a vengeance. His start wasn't that great but he worked his way up through the race and beat the still very fashionable Stybar by ten seconds.
I'm not the Grandmaster of portraits, unlike the guy in the photo, the always cheerful Kristof Ramon, but I like how I managed to capture a typical Ramon smile accidentally.
There's no denial in that today we were in the Svennyland.