The controversy about the possible departure from top notch cyclo-cross rider Zdenek Stybar (Quickstep Cycling Team) often ends up at comparisons with that other former cyclo-cross star Lars Boom (Rabobank). The tall Dutch rider is currently riding a short cyclo-cross stint that should lead him to his sixth consecutive national title but nothing more. That approach seems necessary to avoid a burn-out halfway the road season. Former cyclo-cross world champion Boom feels Stybar should go flat-out for a career on the road, just like he did two years ago.
“It’s a good decision for him as he’s a good road rider,” Boom said. “It’ s a risk though because he’s earning good money in cyclo-cross. He has to look at it as an investment.”
Stybar hoped that combining the muddy meadows and the road was possible, but this season his somewhat moderate results and lack of punch seem to make him doubt. “Now he’s performing less good because of his training range on the road,” Boom said.
The departure of another non-Belgian top cyclo-cross rider seems to turn the discipline into an even bigger Belgian affair. The lack of non-Belgians might represent bad publicity for the cyclo-cross discipline. “The cyclo-cross world is mostly a Belgian thing so that’s normal,” Boom said.
Boom is one of the few riders who knows what it is to ride against the Belgians. The biggest races of the year are mostly held on their turf and for the local – often intoxicated – fans a foreigner is the perfect target. “It might have been Boom they shouted but it was probably boo-ing. I don’t want to say much about it. In Zolder [the World Cup round held on December 26] it was ok but just like last year it was bad over here in Loenhout. It probably has something to do with the winter break in soccer,” referring to the soccer-fans who head out to other sports.
The 25 year-old turns 26 on Friday and during the first half of the race it seemed like the man from Vlijmen was about to get himself an early birthday present. It seemed like he struggled in the technical sections but in the first half hour he made up for that with speed on the long windy finishing straight. “It was way too much twisting and turning for me,” Boom said. Several riders including Stybar were spotted hopping over a dry bourn but Boom didn’t bother trying. “I’m a road rider and I don’t risk that stuff.” Once dropped by race leader and eventual winner Albert, the Dutchman lended former team-mate Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) a hand in the chase on Boom’s arch rival Albert. “It was out of sympathy for Nys that I did that,” Boom said. "Going flat out in the wind and ruining your own chances also seemed a bit like riding against Albert. “Some will think that but that wasn’t the case.”