Belgian road and cyclo-cross legend Roger De Vlaeminck made the presentation of the 30th Superprestige a night to remember, making blunt statements criticizing former world champion Niels Albert and Jurgen Van den Broeck.
The event in Sint-Laureins, Belgium on Wednesday preceded the opening Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde, Belgium on October 8.
De Vlaeminck, the 64-year-old former cyclo-cross world champion and quadruple winner of Paris-Roubaix, gave his respect to Sven Nys, the defending series champion and 10-time overall winner and the dedication of his life to the sport. "Compare that with a rider like Niels Albert, who doesn't quite take care of himself the same way," De Vlaeminck said.
'Monsieur Paris-Roubaix' also hit out Omega Pharma's Van den Broeck, saying he didn't understand why young riders don't pay respect to somebody like him. "They should have more respect for their elders. Van den Broeck didn't bother to say hello to a man like me but he's good enough to drive around in a 6M [1.5m euro] car. Back in my days I drove a nice car too but that was one that I had won, now they're buying those cars themselves."
A little later Albert was interviewed by host Philippe Maertens and he reacted to De Vlaeminck's statements by saying, "I think what De Vlaeminck said was rather inappropriate."
During the dinner that followed the presentation De Vlaeminck explained to Cyclingnews that he doesn't want to keep his mouth shut. "I can't be a hypocrite like everybody else. I think my statement will help Niels to work even harder and become even better. He just brought me a bottle of champagne to say I was right. Well, it was Paul Herijgers [former cyclo-cross world champion] who brought it but it came with a message," De Vlaeminck said.
Other accounts indicate the "message" from Albert was "I can't drink this, I have to live for my job".
The current cyclo-cross stars tweeted out their support to Albert. "The reaction of Roger De Vlaeminck was under the belt," Nys wrote. Current world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step – Innergetic) retweeted a message from Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet) and a strong "Agree" to "Niels Albert is not Sven Nys? True! But he deserves at least as much respect for his commitment and characteristic racing style!"
In other Superprestige news, organisers announced that Nissan extended its contract for three more years, that newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws became the new media partner and cable operator Telenet would start building a media island at each round.