Yesterday, courtesy of my neighbors Els and Anna, i watched the men's race on television. When i compared the worlds course to belgian nat'ls, I was a liar - although i didn't know it until i saw it on tv. holy _ _ _ _!!! I have never seen anything that bad in my whole cycling career. There was one NCS MTB race in Minnesota many years ago that came close.
The mud was so thick and sticky that these guys were running at least half of the race. Some of the sections went on for at least 1 1/2 minutes! And as soon as they were barely able to pedal a few strokes, they were back off running again. The painfully slow pace made the race seem comical - guys racing full tilt yet moving 2kph. If i were in that race, i'd be glad that i upgraded my Specialized shoes to the ones that have buckles. I'm sure a lot of shoes were literally lost in that race.
Right away, Sven got a few second gap on the chasers - wellens and vervecken. Then trailed the rest of the field. A couple of laps later, Bart joined sven. They rode together for a while until that one moment of time that determined the race.
On a long semi-rideable muddy section, while sven was riding a behind and to the left of bart along the course fence, sven FELL, or rather tipped over at that speed. Once he got up, he also had to unravel his handlebars from the course barrier. He quickly blamed it on the lapped rider that was directly in front of him. It looked like sven tried to change direction to get around the lapped rider, but in that barely rideable mud, changing direction is nearly impossible as sven found out.
The race announcers said that the lapped rider had every right to be there and that sven should have gone around him. It was not the lapped rider's fault. But from that one incident, Bart intantly gained about eight seconds on sven. Sven tried in vain to bridge to Bart. You could see him get motivated and make up time on the technical sections on Bart, but then loose his motivation and lose more time with it. After about ten minutes of this, it seemed like he gave up. Sven turned his ride into a sunday afternoon spin, mind you a spin at a pace that none of us except for Klaas Vantornout, Bart's teammate, who passed Sven near the finish, could even dream of following!
In my opinion, Bart earned the win fair and quare (what a corny phrase but does apply here!) You could tell by looking at him that he was clearly the most motivated for the win!
He was also the best on the day. Go Bart (maybe i will now forgive you for remembering me as the girl who missed the start at Treviso!)
On the womens side, Loes Sels - a ROAD RACING specialist won! Very impressive considering the terrain. They raced in the same slop as the guys. Katrien Aerts was second and Hilde Quintens third - both very talented crossers. The gal marked to win, Veerle Engels, crashed while in the lead and simply stepped off the course immediately after that. I hope she is OK. That must be a lot of pressure for a whole country to pre-name you as the victor. I hope to know what that feels like soon.