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First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, February 23, 2012

Date published:
February 23, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Albert shouldn't split 'Cross Worlds bonus with teammates, manager says

    New world champion Niels Albert (Belgium)
    Article published:
    January 31, 2012, 15:44 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian colleagues didn't help him enough to justify their share

    Niels Albert won the World Cyclo-cross Championship on his own and does not need to share his bonus from the national federation with his Belgian teammates, his manager Christophe Roodhooft has told Het Laatste Nieuws. The national coach and federation vehemently disagree with this conclusion.

    Albert won 22,000 Euro as a bonus from the Belgian cycling federation for becoming world champion, which would normally be divided among the other six riders on the team.

    Roodhooft did not think the money should be shared. “Albert has done everything alone," Roodhooft said. "He received no help, on the contrary. They rode in chase of Albert. Why should he have to hand over part of the profits?”

    Albert broke from the pack in Koksijde on the first of ten laps, and his lead was never endangered.  Defending champion Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic gave chase, along with Belgians Kevein Pauwels and Sven Nys. "Who is violating the agreements? Albert or the other Belgians?” asked Roodhooft.

    Both national coach Rudy De Bie and sports director Jos Smets of the national federation vigorously opposed Roodhooft's viewpoint.  “This cannot be - it was not the deal,” said De Bie. "Years ago it was agreed that the federation's premium for the Worlds would be divided with teammates. That deal is ratified by the national sports committee. Albert rode the majority of the race alone in the lead, but the other Belgians played their role when Stybar led the chase.”

    Smets echoed those sentiments, saying: “Agreements are to be adhered to. Coach Rudy De Bie has a trust agreement that all the riders made at a meeting. If someone does not agree, he had to say at that time, and not afterwards. Moreover, this is not a new system...

  • Stybar to race 'cross only as preparation for road

    Elite men's winner Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 9:26 GMT
    Cycling News

    Dual seasons a burden

    After his unsuccessful bid to claim a third consecutive world cyclo-cross championship, Zdenek Stybar has decided with his coach that he will no longer be able to put the same kind of focus on 'cross if he intends to perform well in the road season. Stybar finished 13th in Koksijde.

    According to Het Laatste Nieuws, his Omega Pharma-Quickstep manager Wilfried Peeters confirmed that Stybar, with his coach Peter Hespel, has decided that combining the two disciplines to the extent he has for the past two years is no longer possible.

    "Next season, Stybar will race cyclo-cross only as preparation for the road season. He will still race some 'cross, but will no longer fight for the overall rankings. This year was a good learning experience for him, but the results were a bit disappointing. This is why we decided that the current combination is no longer possible."

    Stybar will still race the remainder of the 'cross season, but will then go on a break after the final event in Oostmalle. Peeters said that while last year, Stybar started his road season at the Four Days of Dunkirk at the start of May, his program for the upcoming season has yet to be decided.

    "With the combination of the cyclo-cross and road season, he has raced almost continuously for two years. We want to allow him to rest and not to risk sending him too early to the road," Peeters said.

    Peeters was critical of Stybar's overly ambitious schedule last December, and while reports surfaced saying he would focus on the road, Stybar quickly came back to explain he would continue to pursue his first love:...

  • Did Wellens and two other riders dope the day before Belgian nationals?

    Former world champion Bart Wellens (Telenet - Fidea) takes his first major victory of the season.
    Article published:
    February 03, 2012, 14:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian court said to have information that Van den Brock administered doping products

    A Belgian court has information that Luc Van den Broeck administered drugs to Bart Wellens and two other riders the day before the Belgian national cyclo-cross championships, Het Nieuwsblad has reported. Bart and Geert Wellens and Kevin Cant are said to have received doping products either through an injection or a drip at his office.

    Van den Broeck, who was questioned for over three hours, denied the charges. “I administered drugs? That makes me laugh. The three have never been together in my office,” he said. “This is pure slander.”

    Bart Wellens was taken to hospital before the nationals suffering from high fever and heart and kidney problems. His house was searched last week as part of a court-ordered doping investigation centering on Van den Broeck.

    Wellens was questioned by the court for several hours yesterday morning. “I have replied to all questions, even those about my relationship with Van den Broeck,” he said. “I hope everything is cleared up soon.”

    Geert Wellens and Keven Cant (Belgian 'cross champion for Elites without contract), were questioned for about 20 minutes each. All three riders gave hair samples which will be tested for evidence of doping.

    Bart Wellens said that a check up at the University Hospital in Antwerp shows that he has no more heart problems. Last week it was claimed that his health emergency stemmed from dental problems, and he is to undergo surgery today to remove the problems.

  • Meeusen achieves elusive season victories

    Tom Meeusen celebrates his first victory of the season at the GVA Trofee event in Lille.
    Article published:
    February 09, 2012, 22:02 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    Late season success a relief for Belgian 'crosser

    Entering the current cyclo-cross season, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) had one goal in mind – to win a major race. The 23-year-old Belgian's sights were set on World Cup, GVA Trofee or Superprestige events. Last weekend he finally achieved his goal in grand fashion by winning two major races in one weekend: GVA Trofee Krawatencross in Lille on Saturday and Superprestige Hoogstraten on Sunday.

    As Meeusen crossed the finish line in Hoogstraten, one would think he would be focusing on how wonderful it was to pull off the win two days in a row, but instead his first thought was, "I'm so happy I can stop pedaling now." His sprint to the line started a little over 1km out which can explain his excitement to finally hold the legs still.

    "Since yesterday I was in the winning mood so I'm just really thrilled that it worked out so well," said Meeusen. "There was a lot of pressure that fell off my shoulders from the wins. I go on training every day to have a victory once this year. Last year I had two victories so this year would be not so good if I had none. I was very scared when it was already February and it didn't happen."

    Racing in a country like Belgium where most of the world's best 'crossers congregate, victories are never easy to attain. "This season there are four really good riders (Niels Albert, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, and Zdenek Stybar), so when someone like me has a super day I am only second or third. There was always at least one of those four who was better which was very frustrating," said Meeusen.

    Of all the World Cup, GVA Trofee and Superprestige events, until Meeusen's two wins, all but one of them were won by the either Albert, Nys, Pauwels or Stybar. The solitary race that got away from the fabulous four was

  • Wellens hopes to come back to cyclo-cross racing

    A wave from Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) as he finishes in fifth place.
    Article published:
    February 14, 2012, 15:34 GMT
    Cycling News

    Attended first race after medical problems

    Bart Wellens is determined to at least try and come back to riding on the cyclo-cross circuit, even if he is uncertain as to whether he will succeed. The Belgian is still undergoing medical procedures for the dental problems that are said to have caused the heart and kidney problems which hospitalized him earlier this year.

    He made his first appearance last weekend at a race since being rushed to hospital only hours before the Belgian national championship, attending the races in Middelkerke and Eeklo as an observer.

    “I realize every day more and more that it is a long way back," he said on his website. "I am still easily able to ride, but I do not know if I will be able to ride again at the highest level? But I'll definitely try. During the previous weeks I have often thought about quitting and even talked a lot about it with my wife. But I will still try, and we will decide later in the year what to do. I am still too young to quit and we'll see what the future will bring.”

    Wellens has also enjoyed the continued support of his Telenet-Fidea team.  “And I'm super happy that I keep getting the confidence of the team. I also find it amazing that my teammates are doing well.”

    Meanwhile, the worst of his medical problems have been taken care of, but he has learned a hard lesson.  “I know that I have to give my teeth more than 100 percent care. And that is what I tell everyone, because it can have serious consequences!”

  • GVA Trofee makes sweeping changes

    Tom Meeusen celebrates his first victory of the season at the GVA Trofee event in Lille.
    Article published:
    February 20, 2012, 22:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Title sponsor exits, overall to be on accumulated time

    One of cyclo-cross's most important series, the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee, just ended it's 25th year with the finale in Oostmalle this weekend, and despite the newspaper dropping from title sponsor to secondary backer, the Trofee will continue in the next season with a new title supporter soon to be announced. In addition to a new name, the rules of the series will undergo sweeping changes.

    In a novel concept for cyclo-cross, the overall standings will be based on the total accumulated time of a rider rather than the points gathered by placings in each of the eight races.

    Although the top riders in this year's series - Kevin Pauwels, who broke Sven Nys's seven year winning streak this season, Zdenek Stybar and Nys - would likely have had the same positions with these new rules, Pauwels didn't like the idea.

    "For me this is not such a good thing," Pauwels said to "Normally I'm not too good in the heavy, muddy 'cross, and in the future will be the biggest differences there. It becomes harder for me to win the overall. It is also makes every cross a fight for every second."

    The time losses will be limited to five minutes, according to, with bonus time awarded for the finish and intermediate sprints.

  • Van den Brand retires after 25 years

    Daphny van den Brand (AA Drink - finished in second place.
    Article published:
    February 21, 2012, 20:55 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    Cyclo-cross star reflects on her greatest battles

    After 25 years of racing, AA Drink/ rider Daphny van den Brand finally hangs up the bike. Coming off a very successful season including European Championship title, World Cup overall title, UCI Points leader and a silver medal at World Championships, Van den Brand stands firm on her decision to retire.

    "There just comes a time to stop. Mentally I am tired. At every race you have to go for the win and that takes so much energy to do. And then there is all the travel and everything else that comes with this lifestyle. I did it for a long time and it's now enough."

    Since the age of eight, Van den Brand has raced year-round. "I did summers on the road and winter on the cyclo-cross bike. I used one bike for everything but I got other wheels to ride on in the winter. When I turned 17, I replaced the road racing with mountain biking because I got tired of hearing all the bickering that goes on between the riders in the road races. Shortly after, I met Johan [Van de Ven], my husband and we did mountain bike racing together. But once we were awarded a womens cyclo-cross world championships in 2000, I put everything into 'cross."

    Her dedication to the sport of cyclo-cross definitely paid off. Over the years, 34 year old Van den Brand has collected an impressive array of victories to include a World Championship (2003, Monopoli), 11 National Championships, and 5 European Championships.

    "The two wins that meant the most to me are the World Championships and the 2006 European Championships that were held in Huijbergen [The Netherlands]. That year I had problems with my knee and had to be operated on over the summer. I was three months out of training and then I came back to win this race. It was an emotional day for...

  • Pauwels, Van den Brand top final UCI cyclo-cross rankings

    Daphny Van Den Brand took the World Cup overall
    Article published:
    February 22, 2012, 23:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Van der Haar best U23 'crosser, Van der Poel top junior

    With the last of the UCI-sanctioned cyclo-cross races taking place this past weekend, the UCI announced today the final cyclo-cross rankings of the 2011-2012 season. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) topped the elite men's rankings for the first time in his career while Daphny van den Brand (AA Drink – Cycling Team) concluded her career as the highest-ranked rider in the women's standings.

    Lars van der Haar was the best in the U23 men's category and his Dutch compatriot Mathieu van der Poel finished first in the junior men's rankings. As a nation the Netherlands topped the rankings in every category except the elite men, where Belgium clearly dominated.

    The 2011-2012 season turned out to be a breakthrough season for Kevin Pauwels in the elite men's category. The 27-year-old Belgian captured the bronze medal at the world championships in Koksijde, won four World Cup rounds, three category 1 and four category 2 races, plus was a podium finisher on 14 other occasions. One of his rare off-days was at the Belgian championships where he finished 10th.

    'Cross veteran Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) finished in second overall, 153 points behind his compatriot, while Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) placed third, 383 points behind Pauwels. Both Nys and Stybar captured the title at their national championships in Belgium and the Czech Republic respectively. They both disappointed at the World Championships and lost valuable points in the World Cup.

    Fourth-placed Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) was out injured in November but bounced back with a win...