By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem, Belgium
One day before the World Cup race in Pijnacker, The Netherlands, cyclo-crossers had the option to race in Eernegem, Belgium, for the Vlaamse Houtlandcross. None of the big guns were expected to expend much time or energy in West Flanders since the Sunday's World Cup race outstripped the Houtlandcross C2 event in importance. The Houtlandcross is also not part of the Superprestige series or the GvA-trophy.
Nevertheless, organizers in Eernegem wanted some stars in attendance to draw a crowd, so on Friday, Belgian Sven Nys received a desperate phone call from the organizer call during which the Belgian National Champion was convinced to travel northern Belgium to race.
The result was just as positive for the organization as it was for Nys. The crowds came and Nys picked up not only his start money, but also a win - his sixth victory of the season.
Afterward, Nys explained that the unexpected invitation was perfectly timed. "I've got some back pain, and what better way to test your condition than riding a race?" Nys said. "It helped my decision that the course was dry thus making it possible to ride smoothly."
"The organization in Eernegem was in trouble, and I wanted to take my responsibility in supporting the smaller races, but the other big names should do that as well on future occasions." After the event, Nys had no complaints about his decision to race Saturday.