The Mongolian Team has been diving into their training. Photo: Courtesy Tom Lanhove

The Mongolian Team dove into their training. Courtesy Tom Lanhove

by Josh Liberles

The Mongolian cyclocross team, composed of athlete’s from the Asian country’s high steppes, famously followed in their Zimbabwean counterparts’ footsteps when they journeyed to Belgium to compete on the sport’s biggest stages.

While Team Zimbabwe reaped the benefits of being featured in the Allez Allez Zimbabwe reality television program, the Mongolian program has struggled financially. Last year, Belgian road cycling legend Johan Museeuw came to the team’s rescue, supplying Museeuw bikes and support. The Mongolian Cycling Federation specifically targeted ’cross instead of a European road campaign because of the more modest financial requirements, as well as a the great exposure potential and simpler logistic hurdles. But the team’s management has been unable to scrape together the necessary euros to meet the budgetary needs for this season.

Although the riders – Boldbaatar Bold-Erdene, Ariunbold Naranbat, Naran and Khangarid Baasankhuu Myagmarsuren – tended to congregate at (or off) the back in most of last year’s competitions and, as said, some viewed the team as little more than “an exotic attraction” or a publicity stunt, when the Zimbabwean program started, it achieved similar results. But even early on in their inaugural season, the Mongolian racers were going up against the likes of Niels Albert and Francis Mourey and finishing on the lead lap – no mean feat. With dedicated work, the Zimbabweans pieced together respectable results over time. It looks like we won’t get the chance to see if the Mongolians could progress similarly.

Read more about the team: Conquering New Territory: Mongolian National Team Finding its Place in European Cross