Bart Wellens going for a hat-trick

Although his 2004-2005 season hasn't been one of his better ones, Belgian Bart Wellens wants to pull...

Although his 2004-2005 season hasn't been one of his better ones, Belgian Bart Wellens wants to pull off a hat-trick and win the elite men's World Cyclo-cross Championship for the third time in a row. Wellens has an impressive palmares at the World Championships, winning rainbow jerseys in the U23 division in 1999 and 2000 before winning in the elite championships in Monopoli, Italy and Pont-Château, France in 2003 and 2004. He described the parcours in St.Wendel, Germany as "a great course, lots of hills make it very demanding but also very quick. That suits me. Because it's so close to Belgium, it'll be almost like riding at home for me."

"I love cyclo-cross because it's so varied," admitted Wellens, who lives in Vorselaar near Antwerp. The days of cyclo-cross being confined to a winter outlet for 'pro' road racers are long gone. "Someone like Tom Boonen couldn't achieve anything in cross," Wellens points out, who trains with his fellow Belgian from time to time. "The amount of time and effort needed to be at the very top in cyclo-cross is enormous. You can't be successful on the roads as well."

At the start of the winter Wellens had to contend with various problems. Firstly there were disagreements with the sponsor and he switched teams, and rides now for Fidea. Then an infection affected his immune system and Wellens had to take a long break. He only came back to racing at the end of November and has been steadily improving since then. "I'm confident I can be in absolute top form by the time of the World Championships in St.Wendel," he said.

Could Wellens be the one to finally stop the onslaught of Sven Nys - who has never won the World Championships - this season?

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