It's not that often that a cyclo-cross race creates as many mechanical problems for riders as occurred during the first round of the Superprestige series in Ruddervoorde on Sunday afternoon. Several riders felt that their bike let them down when it mattered most. Although Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) felt riders shouldn't complain.
During the post-race chats with riders at the finish in Ruddervoorde, it was hard not to find one who talked about the mechanical problems he encountered. Here's a round-up...
Winner Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus): "My pedals were still set quite tight from Saturday's race where we didn't have to get off the bikes much. It was my own mistake and it took a lot of time before it was re-adjusted because first I had to inform the mechanics and then wait one more lap to get a good bike. I was really mad at myself."
World champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step-Innergetic): "My chain dropped twice. It was my own fault because I changed gears before taking the corner."
Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea): "I clicked out of my pedals twice. I'm using a new type of pedals and they are quite tight so I told my mechanics to open them up a little during the first two laps. It didn't help at all and tomorrow I'll fit back the old pedals on my bike."
Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet): "Every time I shifted back to the small ring on the descents ahead those steep climbs my chain dropped. The first couple of times I bounced back, but after about six times I cracked. It never happened during training and today it happened with all three of my bikes, certainly four or five times. After a while I had to ride much more carefully."
All these complaints sounded weary to Vantornout who lived up to his straight-talking reputation.
"Nys should shift in the descent instead of the corner, or if thinks that his bike was poorly set-up he should fire his mechanics. The same with these pedals. We're all riding with the same equipment so it's no excuse. Everybody encounters the same misery so one shouldn't blame a poor result on that," he said.
In the small but high-level Flemish cyclo-cross scene the reaction from Vantornout is a tricky one. First of all, because he's openly telling living-legend Sven Nys to stop whining and secondly, because most riders get along with each other quite well. None of the riders is currently in a war of words with one another, like Sven Nys and Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) have in the past. However, the Vantornout-reaction shows that the pressure on both mechanics and riders is mounting. Ruddervoorde showed that finishing on the podium might become a rarity for the usual suspects and it will only make everyone's nerves more tense.