Today was Armistice Day, that commemorates the end of the First World War. It was a national holiday here, in Belgium, so it was the perfect opportunity for a ‘cross race! To cheer the masses further up, the weather was wonderful, again, which was rather disappointing from my point of view. I find it very ironic, that apart from Ruddervoorde, the only rainy race was in Las Vegas, in the middle of the bloody desert!
We saw some early attack today from Marcel Meisen and a fairly unknown French rider, Matthieu Boulo, but Sven Nys took control of the race from the 5th lap and didn’t really let anyone get close to him. Niels Albert didn’t start particularly well, but then he consistently worked his way up the field and finished the race with just 22 seconds behind Nys. Last week’s winner, Kevin Pauwels finished third, but maybe he was just saving himself for Sunday’s Superprestige race at Hamme-Zogge.
And then there was Aurelien Duval. I was very surprised to hear his name and for a second I thought I heard it wrong. But no, it was him. I remembered him from the 2008/2009 season, when he had a very good season in the U23 field, finished the World Cup overall in second place and even though the World Champs didn’t go that well (11th place), he was one if the up-and-coming riders. However, it all ended in October 2009, when he tested positive for appetite suppressant and when the B-sample came back also positive, he was banned for two years – and consequently fired from his team. Apparently, the two year ban has expired recently, so there were no obstacles for him to start again – and finishing at 7th is definitely a good start. Hopefully, this time a clean start.