I was pondering over the arrive of the new guard in cross and today’s race at Koppenberg have provided me some more valid points for my argument.
First of all, I don’t think I have ever seen nine riders in the front to start the last lap and that group contained the biggest names and up and coming riders in equal numbers. This definitely suggest to me that the field is more balanced and there is less of a difference between riders in the top 10.
I was also very happy to see Ian Field riding away from the field in the first lap and who knows what he could have achieved, had a flat tyre not stop him – he still finished at 13th place.
It was a great race and while normally I don’t see anything from the side of the course, today even I could keep up with what was happening and it was exciting, accordingly.
The race has also marked the end of Jan Denuwelaere. He hasn’t managed to leave his mark in the elite men’s ranks, though his win last year in Essen was indeed unforgettable. The reason for his early retirement seemed to be the lack of motivation, the constant struggle to be selected for World Cups, etc. It seemed to be a vicious circle: the sometimes lacklustre performance meant less points, he wasn’t selected for World Cups, he won less and less points, got further back on the start grid and thus he managed to win less and less points. Would be interesting to know what he is planning to do after his early retirement.
Now, an off-day is coming, the women will be travelling back to the Czech Republic to take part in the European Championships, while the elite men will clash in the sandy pits of Zonhoven – a wicked course, don’t miss it!