While I hate to admit when I am wrong, today I’m more than happy to admit that I was wrong. I was expecting a rubbish day on a boring course, no crowds and yet another Nys/Vos show. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Given that this was Marianne Vos’ first cyclocross race this season and this was her home turf, spectators turned up in surprisingly large numbers. So even though the women started silly early, the race actually had some atmosphere.
What was even cooler was when the fans surrounded Wyman and Vos after the medal ceremony and bombarded them with autograph requests. You don’t see that everyday in Belgium after the women’s race.
The other exciting aspect was that Helen Wyman beat Vos fair and square. Now, you can say that Vos has only started the season but I really hope that this year we’ll see a bit more balanced racing and not just a Vos soloing to victory.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Vos, she is a great rider and a lovely person, it’s just the races were bit dull last year. With so many great riders around this year, hopefully it will be more challenging for her.
The elite men’s race finally brought a win for Klaas Vantornout and that made me very happy. He is the ultimate domestique, the only problem is that there is no such thing in cyclocross, where team tactics rarely matter. He’s been around like forever and he’s never been a prolific winner. I do remember an interview with him when Kevin Pauwels joined Sunweb-Revor and he said that it was a great relief for him that the pressure is now not on him to win but on Pauwels.
This season, however, he turned out to be the stronger rider of the two them and he’d come painfully close to win a race few times. Today he did it. It was close, he kind of sat up in the last few meters and Sven Nys almost managed to surprise him, but he managed to cross the line first. No fourth shower head for Sven Nys then, though he still leads the overall by a figurative mile.
All in all, it was a good day, a lot of heavy wind, some rain and a fair amount of sunshine in the afternoon, great racing, worthy winners – what else do you need?
Now it’s a long drive back to Rotterdam to see a friend and then back to London tomorrow. Next week’s program is the World Cup in Roubaix, a race I’m really looking forward to, so stay tuned for more next weekend!