Reigning US Masters 55+ National champion Kevin Hines wasn’t ready to hang up his cyclocross bike after Nationals in Bend, Oregon. Instead, he and Corner Cycle teammate Jonny Bold (current 45+ National champ) took off for Mol, Belgium to try their luck at going one bigger – they lined up for the Masters Worlds. To prepare for the event and get some extra racing, they planned to hit a local race in Holland, which they missed due to a scheduling conflict, as well as the Belgian National Championships, which they were pleasantly surprised to learn was open to non-Belgians.
by Kevin Hines
Americans Racing Belgian National Championships
We had planned to ride the Belgian Masters National championships on Sunday in Kasterlee, Belgium. Conditions were frozen with some snow and a lot of ruts and mud where the sun had shined. There was very technical single track with some elevation. We showed up over an hour early and planned on Jonny racing first. They had shifted the schedule around, and I was due to race in about 45 minutes from the time we arrived. I pinned up and got my bike, 15 minutes to warm up on road. I started 40th out of 40. I came off the pavement in about 15th and drilled it through the frozen wet soccerfield, got up to about seventh before the single track.
I got up to fourth by the end of the first lap, with the leaders were in site. They had slowed on the pavement, trying to get one an other to pull. Lap two, in the woods, I moved up to third. The leader crashed on a frozen corner, and I jumped in to second.
The rider in front did try to block me with his bike, and I slid around him. I made the pass for the lead in a frozen rutted corn field. Second place sat on me up the pavement and would not pull through. I drilled it and got a small gap. Going into the last lap, the top four of us were together with me pulling. Second and third jumped me coming off the pavement, I immediately passed the third place rider and waited to move on the leader in the muddy frozen corn field. I got him in a corner and got a small gap on the pavement. 300 meters of pavement with an uphill. I beat him by about four bike lengths. The third-place rider, Marc Verloo, the defending Masters Belgian National and World Champion, was not happy with me and the outcome. They did let foreigners race, and they did do a separate podium for me. By what I understand, I am the first non-Belgian to win a cyclocross championship in Belgium…and it will not be allowed again. At least I made history.
Second row start. I came off the pavement top-15 and got in to third by the end of the first lap. I had to do some very aggressive passing and running around riders–they are a lot more aggressive in Europe than in the States. On the second lap, I passed the second-place rider in the sand section and focused on the leader, Verloo. I got him in a sandy corner. I came through the start/finish in the lead with the current World champ on my wheel. He jumped me going into the sand. Three laps to go. I am thinking this guy is a multi-time World and Belgian champ for a reason. I tried numerous times to pass him and was unsuccessful. Verloo would slow in the technical sections and climbs to slow me and create a gap. He was successful in keeping me behind; at one point we slowed down to what felt like a crawl. We had a good gap on the rest of the field.
On the last lap, I had in my mind where I would put the move on him. I was unsuccessful and had to dismount, I remounted and got back on him but he was the stronger rider to the line. I did not feel my best on this given day and I did learn a lot. I will be back for that jersey.
Read Cyclocross Magazine’s coverage of the 2010 Masters Worlds here. And In case you missed it, you can replay our live coverage from Saturday and Sunday and find all of our reports and photos in our 2010 Tabor Cyclocross Worlds Coverage Center.