I’ve been told many times, that the Belgian Cyclocross Nationals is a special event. I have always wanted to cover it, but something has always come up. Up until now. It was organised in Koksijde and I knew that there isn’t going to be a race closer to me at least in the next decade. And I have made the right decision, because it was an interesting day.
I have complained about shooting the same races over and over again, about the difficulty of finding new vantage points on courses I know well. Koksijde is now officially the race I have photographed the most – ten times over the years (including the year when it was cancelled). But because this race wasn’t on my original race calendar, nobody was expecting photos from me, so I felt I could be a lot more free and that made the day a lot less stressful.
Another interesting thing was that this was the first race for ages, where I had to work hard to access the course. During the pre-race briefing, they very sternly ordered us off the course at all times. Which would have been ok, but the crowds were also very dense, sometimes six-seven people deep, something I haven’t seen for a while. I just realised that I haven’t seen this many people at a cross race for a while. So that was fun and a bit different from the regular racing.
The final, funniest thing happened before the start of the elite men. Most riders were waiting to be called to the finish line, but the World Champion, Wout Van Aert, was nowhere to be found. I have been attending races for almost ten years and I’ve never seen a a single rider ever even being slightly late. Never. It just doesn’t happen. So Van Aert not being there seemed like a serious thing. Then suddenly, he just rolled down the finishing straight and joined the others, like nothing happened. I thought at the time that was a bit arrogant. Little did I know what had actually happened – it was the least of Van Aert’s fault that he was late. The race takes place on an airforce base and there were ready-for-action helicopters stationed right next to the course. One these helicopters’ rotor was still spinning and the surroundings were locked down, nobody was allowed to cross in front of the helicopter – and that included the current World Champion, too. No special favours. So it took him some time to get around the obstacle and get to the start. Below you can check out the whole thing, caught by Veldritkrant‘s Julien Gielen:
Next week is the penultimate World Cup race takes place in Nommay, it’s time now to catch my Eurotunnel train back home.
Don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter campaign for the 2017/2018 Cyclocross Album!