Sven Nys and Niels Albert go toe to... claw?

Sven Nys and Niels Albert go toe to... claw? by tarotastic on flickr

by Jake Sisson

It is too early to say that panic has set in in the Belgian cyclocross camp, but already, members are starting to show their concern over the strength of their team, according to an ANP report. While it arguable that the Belgians have the best team going away on paper, their commitments can be seen by some as suspect. Belgian national team coach Rudy de Bie held an emergency meeting to field riders for the Roubaix World Cup this weekend and has stated that he will take a long, hard look at his team following this weekend’s performance to make sure that his team is the strongest it could be.

Trouble seemed to start when young Niels Albert, who finished an impressive second to Belgian champion Sven Nys at last weekend’s Belgian national championships, despite needing to pit on the first lap, said that he would rather help BCKP – Powerplus teammate Radomir Simunek achieve his worlds goal, than help Belgian teammate and trade team rival, Nys. Albert certainly has world championship aspirations of his own and feels that it is not his place to play second fiddle to Nys when he has a shot at taking home the championship.

On the other side of the aisle is Nys, who has called for unity within the Belgian squad from the start. Nys realizes that Lars Boom and the Dutch squad will be keen to exploit any infighting within the Belgian team. The Dutch have been unified behind Boom from the start, and are aware of the title aspirations of more than one of their Belgian rivals. The ANP reports that Nys has gone so far as to say that anyone who does not wish to ride in support of Belgium should be left home on race day, regardless of his accomplishments. “I have never seen before,” replied Sven Nys. “But I think that De Bie right. We must ride together against a very strong rider from abroad,” referring to Title Nys defender Lars Boom.

Nys has also pledged himself to the support of his young teammate if the chance for victory has eluded him early in the race, stating, “If I can not win, I am prepared to support Niels Albert’s efforts.”

Regardless of who the Belgians decide to send to Hoogerheide, they will need to present a united front to ward off strong challenges from abroad. The Dutch will be riding the wave of their home fans, and any slip ups and infighting between the Belgians could cost them dearly. De Bie has said that the team will be settled following this weekend’s World Cup, and it will be interesting to see if anyone’s respective tunes have changed.