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UCI coordinator says new non-Belgian stars needed
Cyclo-cross has long been dominated by the Belgians, but it is now becoming more international. Next year's Worlds in the USA are in important step, the UCI's 'cross co-ordinator has explained, with the sport appearing now all over the world.
“For eight years I've been committed to spreading cyclo-cross around the world,” UCI cyclo-cross coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele told the Gazet van Antwerpen. "There is now 'cross everywhere, even in Lebanon and South Africa."
"The task now is to wait for big stars in those countries and financial resources. The one depends on the other,” he continued. “Talent is discovered by the media, and where the media goes, sponsors will come along."
Another important step is the fact that the next world championships will take place in the US. "I see this as a huge success. A highlight in my career as UCI coordinator," Van Den Abeele said.
Many of the big international names like Lars Boom (Netherlands), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic, and Enrico Franzoi (Italy) have left 'cross to ride on the road, which he said he finds “just as painful as everyone does.”
Van Den Abeele understood their reasoning, though. “On the road there is a lot more money for those who have a lot of talent. Especially in countries where no 'cross culture is present. Fortunately, Belgian cyclo-cross teams give a chance to foreigners." In addition, the racing calendars make it “almost impossible” to combine the two disciplines.
"Actually the UCI itself provides the competition for 'cross," he said. "The UCI does not look down with contempt on 'cross, though. But even if that enthusiasm was not there, I would still continue my work. I still believe in its internationalization."