By Brecht Decaluwé
The mercury has dropped in Flanders, Belgium, and the cool change is receiving both a hot and cold reaction from races. While the reasons behind the climate change aren't known, the result has been fast and furious cyclo-cross courses.
In Loenhout race winner Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) completed no less than 11 laps, averaging more than 31 km/h on the frozen meadow. While former BMX-champion Stybar is clearly a star on ice, there are other riders who hate this type of racing like the skinny Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team), who has been struggling with a fragile back.
"I like such races," Stybar, who also won in Diegem, said. "They are fast, slippery and there's also the sun, what else can I ask for."
Belgian Wellens doesn't share the Czech's opinion though, claiming he lost 10 percent of his motivation when finding out it was freezing in Loenhout. "The last few days we had courses for guys like Stybar and Thijs Al," said Wellens. "My time will come when thaw sets in. Then we will have courses like in Nommay and unsurprisingly they both finished two minutes behind me there."
Stybar pointed the finger at mud-pits when explaining why he didn't perform to his best in Nommay. "Nommay had a course where you can close your eyes and push," Stybar said.
For now it doesn't look like temperatures in Belgium will be rising above zero degrees Celsius during the upcoming week and that means that Wellens will have to keep working on doing damage control. That's in contrast with Stybar who, might be racking up a couple of more wins next week.
One place where Stybar will face a few more ice lovers is at the Czech National Championship race. "Everybody is motivated there and I think they all want to beat me," said the current champion. "I will do all I can to stay in this jersey."