Today, I’ll break that rule. Maybe it was a long day, maybe I tried a lot of different spots, maybe the first really muddy race put me in a good mood, I don’t know. But I couldn’t really go below 50 photos, not without omitting a few good shots. Then again, I might be biased, so leave a comment if you think it’s too much and there are too many filler images.
It snowed on Saturday and though it was gone by the end of the day, it offered a great backdrop for the morning races. The juniors’ race was more eventful than usual, though Mathieu van der Poel pulled away right after the start. However, Quentin Hermans managed to close the gap and he was able to challenge van der Poel for the next few laps. His great effort didn’t last long and van der Poel has won yet another race.
There was a big shake-up at U23s. Mike Teunissen, the strongest rider this season struggled while Wietse Bosmans finally has found his form and rode to his first major win of the season. After last week’s inspired ride by American Zach McDonald, it seemed in the first two laps that he can repeat the same great performance, but after a great start he faded away.
On the women’s front, it was a great day for the Brits. It looked like yet another tour de force by Sanne van Paassen, especially that Katie Compton was nowhere to be seen in the front. She had a mechanical problem early on and was forced to change bikes in the pits.
[/one_half][one_half_last]While she was working hard to get back to the front, van Paassen was chased and then overtaken by Nikki Harris and Helen Wyman. They both seemed stronger than van Paasen but then Compton fired up the engines and broke away from the field, leaving the two Brits to decide the remaining podium spots. Compton slipped in the final corner but Wyman wasn’t close enough to exploit Compton’s mistake.
A few things that stood out for me from the elite men’s race. First of all, Sven Nys wasn’t fast enough to challenge the top trio today. While he was clearly the strongest rider last week, in Tabor, today he was in damage control mode.
Then there was Klaas Vantornout, who came tantalisingly close to win a World Cup race: when they crossed the finish line before the last lap, Niels Albert’s lead was only 8 seconds. Yet he managed to hang on that lead and Vantornout bagged yet another silver medal.
Two riders were unable to replicate last week’s great performance. Lars van der Haar was close to the front for a while but faded away mid-race, which is fair enough, given how young he is. Jeremy Powers had problems after the start and ended at the very back of the field. He seemed clearly demoralised by the turn of events and finished pretty far back from the front.
It was a great race, the mud made it much harder the otherwise not too technical course. However, I couldn’t help but notice the moderate turnout, and the spectators were clearly less noise than the usual Flemish crowd.
I’m on my way back to London, it was a mad dash from Plzen to Prague by train and then catching the flight back to London. After taking last week off, I’m back to reality tomorrow, but only for a short while: Koppenbergcross is around the corner, so stay tuned, there’s more to come on Thursday![/one_half_last]