33 year old Nico Mattan is one of Belgium's most popular riders. The garrulous Gent-Wevelgem winner likes his experiences so far in America. "This is my first UCI race here," Mattan explained before the Wachovia Trenton Invitational, "as I rode a criterium last year in North Carolina." Mattan took a break after a successful spring classics campaign where he had a controversial ProTour win at Gent-Wevelgem.
"Yeah I have pretty good form now and after Philly, I'll do Tour de Suisse and the (Belgian) national championships," he said, adding that he was if he'll ride the Tour de France at this point. We asked if he'd brought his vociferous fan club, Nico Mattan's Ultras and he laughed and said, "Oh they are back in Belgium training to support me in the next Belgian races!"
We also asked the likeable Mattan why he was so popular in Belgium and he said, "I don't know exactly... I like to have fun with the fans, have a beer with them and I'm just a regular guy. We had a gentleman's race one week after Gent-Wevelgem for me and there were 1600 people that turned out! It was great... so one good thing about me is that I can't say no to my fans but maybe that's a bad thing too..."