Tom Robertson continues to bring us words and images covering the Euro Cross Campers’ experience, this time from the GP Sven Nys GvA. Missed his previous post? Check out his photos and recap of the Bredene, Belgium, Sylvestercross race.
The GP Sven Nys is a GvA series event that takes place in Nys’ hometown of Baal. The event is held in what feels like a neighborhood. It reminds me of ’cross races in the US, with parking along the small roads leading into the venue. The course, though, is all Belgium. Two fly-overs, a sketchy descent, and the thickest, deepest mud that I’ve ever walked through…I couldn’t imagine riding a bike through that. Five Juniors raced from the Euro Cross Camp with a couple of great results. Andrew Dillman and Jeff Bahnson both had good starts, though Dillman did get off course at one point and had to backtrack. Nevertheless, he was able to make up time, and was in fourth for much of the race. On the last lap through a particularly muddy section, he dropped his chain and lost a spot, to finish up sixth. Bahnson held a steady pace throughout the race and picked off a few racers, finishing a few seconds behind Dillman in seventh.
In the U23 race, Cody Kaiser was the only Euro Cross Camper to line up. But regardless of being the sole racer, he had full support, which was crucial to even finish this race. As muddy as the course was for the Junior race, it was getting thicker. Kaiser did bike changes every one-and-a-half laps. Geoff Proctor and Jim Anderson were hopping in the pits to make sure that Kaiser had a clean bike. After the race, Kaiser commented that he has ridden in all kinds of conditions, including the ultra-muddy days in Portland, but he had never seen anything like the race in Baal.
All of the racers were appreciative of the support from the staff. From front row parking spots, setting up trainers and collecting jackets at the start line, to cleaning bikes in the pit, being there at the finish and taking care of transporting bikes, it’s a pro-level operation. For US racers coming over to race in Europe, it’s the little things that add up to give them the support they need to be able to concentrate on racing.
While there were no Elite racers in the final race of the day, I stayed to see how the Elites would handle the mud. Just as it had gotten thicker from the Junior race to the U23, it continued to get deeper throughout the day. Lars Boom was leading the race when he feel on the long descent. By a couple of laps in, Sven Nys and Zdenek Stybar had established a gap, with Neils Albert riding 30 seconds back. This was my eighth Elite race in the past couple of weeks in Belgium, and the pain on the racers’ faces was taken to a new level. In the end, Nys passed Stybar near the end to take his 10th victory in his hometown race.