After a season of set-backs, Niels Albert promised that, if he won the 2012 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde, he would make the pilgrimage from Tremelo, where he lives, to the Scherpenheuvel basilica, one of Belgium's most holy sites.
True to his word, the new world champion set off on the 23.5km hike along with Christophe and Philip Roodhooft, the owners of the BKCP-Powerplus team and about 65 supporters.
After a stop halfway in Aarschot, the entourage and Albert arrived at the basilica at 2pm and were greeted by commentator Michel Wuyts and more fans. Albert treated his fans to free frites and lit candles in the church following the successful hike.
"It turned out better than expected," Albert said according to Cyclo-cross.info. "Quite good. I'm not that tired, but you feel like you have a sturdy walk in your legs. In the end it was a fun and sporting day, socializing with the fans.
"I don't think I will become a fanatical hiker, though ... I'd gladly have another world title on my palmares, but that doesn't mean I'm going to repeat this pilgrimage to Scherpenheuvel every time."
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