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Post-Christmas World Cup timing no good for non-Belgians
French cyclo-cross champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) complained about Belgian race organization after a good ride at the cyclo-cross World Cup round in Koksijde on Saturday. The 32-year-old also regretted that the French federation did not send its riders to Koksijde.
Mourey improved on his third place from last year at the Koksijde dunes by placing second this year, finishing well after winner Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).
"If logic is respected, then the win is mine next year," Mourey joked. "No, I came here to finish on the podium. Once Niels was gone, the goal was second or third. It worked out, so I'm very happy with my second place."
Despite some minor mistakes in the sand, Mourey managed to keep up with German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) when he accelerated and then set the pace himself in the final lap. Keeping up with Albert was no option. "He's crazy about the sand. The love for sand isn't that big with me," said Mourey.
In spite of that, Mourey was feeling a bit down on Belgian 'cross race organization. Despite being one of the top riders in the cyclo-cross peloton for several years, the Frenchman doesn't appear in Belgium much even though Belgium is often considered the heart of cyclo-cross racing and a place where top 'cross riders can make a lot of money.
"The Superprestige series didn't even bother to invite me. Why? Last year, it was because I wasn't the French champion, and this year it is because I'm too expensive. I'd love to race here, but I can't ride for free. I've got to drive 600 kilometres and spend the night somewhere. I've got a Belgian agent, but it's a circuit fermée."
Mourey expanded on his concerns by claiming that the UCI was helping Belgian riders by organizing a World Cup round the day after Christmas in Belgium, thereby setting up non-Belgian riders for a tough decision. They will be forced to spend Christmas somewhere other than home if they want to attend the World Cup round.
"I'm riding in Dottignies, Kalmthout and Sint-Niklaas. Then also the World Cup round in Namur. The Zolder World Cup? I'd like to stay home for Christmas. If you have kids, you'll understand. I'm away from home 200 days a year. Who gets it in his mind to schedule a World Cup round the day after Christmas," Mourey wondered.
The Frenchman knows he will not be receiving a lot of support from the Belgian riders on that concern. "It's easy for them. They're home for Christmas and have a short drive ahead the day after. I wonder if they would be racing the day after Christmas if the race were in Nommay, France."
The absence from the French riders in the youth categories also didn't go unnoticed. In the junior men's category, the French Dubau twins were well positioned in the World Cup standings after two rounds, but fell down the standings Saturday.
"That's a problem at the French federation," said Mourey. "It's hard for everybody. They organize the transportation and they decided not to head over here. There's no budget for all of the World Cup rounds. Too bad because if you're not doing all these courses against the best riders, then you're missing out on a lot of experience. It's an alarming evolution."
Mourey had one of his best seasons on the road in 2013. He won the fifth stage in the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Tro Bro Leon, a race that is similar to Paris-Roubaix. He also rode a strong Giro d'Italia, finishing 20th overall when the race ended in Brescia.
"I've been combining cross and road all my life. I've been at the top in cyclo-cross for five or six years now. Now it's going well on the road too. Hopefully it'll go even better next year. Some teams don't like it when their riders do cyclo-cross, but that's different here. My team has been supporting me with the team bus for four years now. That shows a lot of respect."
Mourey has a contract with FDJ.fr until 2015.