February 03, 2016 0 Comments
We're really lucky where we live in Flanders because there's a superb market every Sunday. The 'boerenmarkt' is the farmer's market where you can usually get great food bargains and all manner of exotic veg. Monday morning's market is less enticing, so is not usually my preferred option - even though it can offer some bizarre sights - as in the image below...
Anyway,...sadly I missed my regular boerenmarkt visit this week due to having to complete a 5 hour training ride in the morning - and having to be back home in time to be washed, fed, watered and settled on the couch for the beginning of the Cyclocross World Championships.
I made it back from my wet and windy 5 hours just in time for the start. In Belgium, cyclocross is like a religion, and this was an extra special World Championships as not only was it being held in Belgium, but it was also the last for one of THE all time great Gods of Belgian cycling - Sven Nys.
Cyclocross is never short of action and without going into too much detail Nys played his role in animating the early part of the race. The Belgians hoped - and then believed for an all too brief moment - that their hero would give them one last display of superhuman strength. As Nys excited his supporters with a well-timed effort, the two pre-race favourites Van Aert and Matthieu Van Der Poel had a coming together, and it looked almost certain that for both that their races were over. But in a herculean display of strength Van Aert recovered well from the mishap, managing to make his way back to the front of the race. Eventually he secured a famous victory on the last running section of the race.
I might be making too big of a deal about this, but I feel I have to explain the scene at home just a little bit. My girlfriend (Pia) is Belgian - and the emotions I saw her display whilst watching the race reminded me why, as a bike rider, I like life here in Belgium so much.
The pure stress on Pia's face when she thought it was all over for the Belgian favourites, followed by the excitement of Nys' brief show of class. Then, edge-of-the-seat nail-biting, watching Van Aert claw his way back to the front before then make his race winning move. And later when Nys burst into tears in the post race interview - not because he'd lost, but because he was so happy with the way he'd ridden for his age (his words not mine) - so Pia did too, overcome with emotion for this great idol.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that this little country lives, breathes and even bleeds cycling, and for me that's why I like being here so much. When you have people who are so passionate about something you love then you can't help but be inspired by the environment and the atmosphere the people create around bike racing.
So, it was a sad and poignant moment, to see Nys race the Worlds for one final time, and I fully appreciate how this great cycling nation will miss cheering him on during the biggest adnd most exciting races. However, you can't help feel that the tears that were shed for Nys won't last too long, for in Wout Van Aert Belgium appears to have already found their next would-be Cyclocross God in waiting.
In case you missed it, here are the race highlights:
As for me, I'm looking forward to my first race action of the year. I leave on Saturday for Doha, so next week's update will come from the middle of the Tour of Qatar. Can't wait to get racing.
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