Belgium's national cyclo-cross coach, Rudi De Bie, says the country could relinquish its dominance of the disipline if both Sven Nys and Niels Albert leave to follow other objectives. Di Bie telling Het Laatste Nieuws, “There is no great new talent coming along.”
Nys, 33, who won the snowy World Cup round in Kalmthout last weekend, wants to start concentrating on road racing next year. Current World Champion and World Cup leader Albert, 23, is considering a switch to mountain biking with an eye to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, as well as riding on the road.
“It would be very unfortunate if Niels actually leaves,” said De Bie. “We would then lose the near-certainty of victory. I see no one with the super talent of Nys and Albert. Foreign riders will then be well placed to take more wins.”
Future Belgian winners might include Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantornout, and Bart Aernouts, De Bie said, noting however, that they are “good 'crossers, but not big winners.”
Some younger riders to keep an eye on are Tom Meeusen, Vincent Bastaens, Jim Aernouts and Joeri Adams, “a quartet with potential, that can go far with hard work, but they don't have the raw talent of Nys and Albert.”
According to Di Bie, fewer wins would mean less popularity for the sport as well, “The public is only interested in real winners,” he said.
De Bie stated his hope that Albert's prospective disipline switch would remain hypothetical. “Let us hope that this is one of Albert's typical statements and that we do not see him leave,” De Bie said, adding, “Of course he may dream of winning the Giro di Lombardia, but it is a different story to realise that dream.”