With its January 1 date, the GP Sven Nys in Baal is surrounded by the extra excitement of ushering in the new year. There are new teams, new equipment and new kits and in the case of this year's race, lots of mud. The conditions will hopefully serve as an omen of great cyclocross to come.
One rider who had a New Year's party to remember was Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight Composites). Compton has struggled with breathing issues at recent races because of allergies that are exacerbated by grasses and weeds. With Monday's race taking place at the Sven Nys Cycling Center and not in a farmer's field, Compton escaped the allergy issues that have plagued her recently.
Her healthy ride was almost marred by her own doing early on when she endo'd on a muddy descent. Compton recovered and then trudged through the mud to take the lead and eventually pull away from the field. The win was Compton's first on European soil since Kermiscross in October.
Monday's race in Baal was also the site of several New Year's resolutions. Annemarie Worst (ERA-Circus) resolved to return to the podium for the first time since the Superprestige Niels Albert CX in October.
Thalita de Jong's (Experza-Footlogix) resolution was to return to racing after missing almost 365 days of cyclocross after tearing her quadriceps tear at the Hoogerheide World Cup in 2017. De Jong's recovery process took longer than expected, so she was happy to be back playing in the mud.
The race was also a new beginning for 19 year-old Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. The young rider celebrated her first race with Corendon-Circus by finishing seventh.
Photographer Bart Hazen put his party favors aside and headed to Baal for the first race of the new year. Enjoy this photo gallery of the muddy racing action from him.