Euro riders debate US trip

By Brecht Decaluwé

The young Czech cyclo-cross rider Radomir Simunek Jr. is no longer keen on making a trip to the USA next season. Two months ago the 24 year-old told Cyclingnews that he debated on making a trip overseas so he could easily gather UCI-points. One month later Simunek is riding much better, with the victory in Antwerp on December 21 as highlight. While his sensations on the bike are much better, his UCI-ranking didn't improve at all, as he is still floating between 15th and 20th position. Despite his recent podium finishes in Diegem and Sint-Niklaas, Simunek still needs a top-10 result at a World Cup race to further improve his ranking.

"As it is now, I'm no longer planning to make the trip. I spoke about it with Christian Heule [who has raced in the USA -ed.] and he told me about the travelling and the hospitality. It would take a lot of effort, and back in the Czech Republic it's also possible to capture UCI-points in the Toi Toi-Cup," Simunek referred to the Czech version of the USGP Series. Another problem for the son of the cyclo-cross legend is the language barrier. Despite speaking at least four languages, English isn't his cup of tea. This season Simunek managed to hype up his Dutch language skills which results in a funny mixture of German and Dutch - and provided amusement for the attending Flemish journalists after his recent performances.

World Champion Erwin Vervecken was the only rider out of the top-10 in the UCI-ranking to compete in some races overseas. Simunek would be a good replacement, but an even bigger name would be Lars Boom. The 21-year-old is the current Dutch champion in cyclo-cross, the UCI's number four in cyclo-cross, but also the U23 time trial world champion on the road. His sponsor Rabobank is trying to gain a foothold in North America and the presence of Boom in some US-races would help them get picked up by local media.

Earlier this season Boom explained to Cyclingnews that his sponsor didn't mind when he choose to go for cyclo-cross until at least the world championships in Hoogerheide 2009. "Rabobank is right behind me. They are happy to have a Dutch rider back in cyclo-cross," Boom referred to the fact that the Dutch team's best rider and UCI-leader Sven Nys is a Belgian, which isn't as recognizable for the Dutch bank as a good Dutch cyclo-cross rider.

Through Michael Rasmussen the road cycling team gained a lot of [negative] exposure in US-media, and with Thomas Dekker the Pro Tour team has a massive talent for the future to gain more positive exposure. Through Lars Boom the team can gain exposure via another channel than the road races in the US. Not a bad tactic since cyclo-cross is finding a new hotbed in the USA as it already hosts most UCI-races in the world with 35 events.

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