Tom Robertson continues to bring us words and images covering the Euro Cross Campers’ experience, this time from the Loenhout Azencross. Missed his previous post? Check out his photos from the GVA Trofee Azencross race at Loenhout.
by Tom Robertson
Thursday was a “smaller” race in the coastal town of Bredene, Belgium. Dubbed the Sylvester Cross, it had three big names that would line up in the Elite race in the form of the world’s best: Sven Nys, Neils Albert and Zdenek Stybar. Geoff Proctor asked Nys why he was coming to race one of the smaller races, with Nys replying that it’s good training for the weekend (of course he loves to hang out with all the Americans as well).
The American Junior squad had six racers line up at the start. Everyone was excited as it was the first race of the European campaign that was free of snow. There was a bit of mud on the course, but mostly wet, damp grass. Jeff Bahnson had somewhat of a slow start, but steadily worked his way up through the field to finish fourth on the day. He was the top American on the day, and his best results of his time at Euro Cross Camp. Zane Godby was just off of Bahnson’s wheel for most of the race and finished a few spots behind him in sixth.
The Elite and U23 fields were combined on the day. A smaller race meant a little bit better call-ups for the American. Brian Matter, an Euro Cross Camp alum, grabbed the last front row call-up when Zdenek Stybar was nowhere to be found when his name was called. Brian hesitated, wondering if he should save the spot for Stybar, but as he said on his blog, somehow his bike just gravitated towards the front row. There was no need to worry about Stybar however, as the best always find their way to the front. Only this time he didn’t have to do it the hard way like Lars Boom, and instead he ended up nudging his way in beside Neils Albert before the gun went off. Matter grabbed the holeshot and momentarily was racing with the big guns, though after a few turns the big three had worked their way clear. Ryan Knapp was having his best race of his time here in Europe and was working his way up in the field when he crashed. He ended up having to run his bike quite a ways to the pit for a change. A new bike wasn’t the answer, however, as his arm took a shot in the fall and he soon had to pull out.
In the end Nys, Albert and Stybar were in a race of their own, and even though this was a small, weekday race, the speed in which they carried was impressive. Albert had a bit of a stumble headed to the finishing straight leaving Nys and Stybar sprinting to the line, with Stybar taking the win.