After one day of racing at the cyclo-cross world championships in Sankt-Wendel, Germany the biggest cyclo-cross nation in the world is still empty-handed, putting more pressure on the Belgians to win the Elite Women’s and Men’s races on Sunday.
The young Belgian riders failed to live up to the high expectations on the shoulders in the Junior Men’s and Under 23 Men’s category on Saturday. None of them won a title or even a medal but Belgian coach Rudy De Bie didn't want to say a bad word about his riders
“I'm pleased with their races but there's no prize. Things were looking good in the Under 23 race but Wietse Bosmans misjudged an acceleration and he was already riding at his limit. He should have done something to surprise the others though. The flat tyre from Vincent Baestaens was unlucky too,” De Bie said.
In contrast to most other races this season, none of the Belgians rode near the front in Sankt-Wendel. Laurens Sweeck dominated most of the World Cup rounds and the local Belgian races but crashed several times during the world championships race. The Belgian U23 selection seemed very strong with riders like Wietse Bosmans, Vincent Baestaens, Joeri Adams, Vinnie Braet and Jim Aernouts, but all of them were reacting rather than acting.
“It's true that except for Joeri Adams none of the Belgians was able to control the race by continuously riding in the top-three. I can live with the outcome though as the boys were present up front. They didn't disappoint me at all. It's not by capturing a medal that you become a rider or not,” De Bie said justifying the lack of medals.
A reason for the lack of success in the most important race of the year could be that for the Belgians, every race on home soil is considered to be important, be it a round of the Superprestige Series or Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy. It results in a very long season for the Belgians, while other riders arrive much fresher at the world championships.
However that theory is played down by Lars van der Haar. The Dutch rider was ever present during the season. He dominated the World Cup, is still in contention for the overall victory in the Belgian series, won the European title and now the world title.
“Every year I show that I'm good the whole year. This year I made even more progression and kept racing at a high level. I always fought with the best and knew from every rider what they were capable of. That was in my advantage today,” Van der Haar said.
Whatever the reason for the lack of Belgian results at the cyclo-cross world championships is, the pressure on the Belgian Elite Men riders is now even higher. The Belgian newspapers will not hold back in criticising the meagre results of day 1, especially as their neighbouring countries – France and the Netherlands, walk away with five of the six medals.