Berden in Tokyo last weekend.

Ben Berden on his way to the win. © Donn Kellogg

by Kat Statman

The season really is wrapping up and though we’ve been on a slow down on the Rumors and Rumblings front, things are still coming down the pipeline. Not only are the rumors swirling around, but cyclocross racing is still just more and more exciting every week. This week we’re going to take a look at the trip to Japan by  Berden, Johnson, Tonkin and Heule; What’s going on with Albert, maybe a little too much bubbly the past few weeks? Meeusen, the future; Wellens looking to come back; Boom to be at Cauberg; And there ain’t no rest for the Nys.
Japan Making It’s Mark
You know you’ve made it as a cyclocross country when well-known Americans, a Belgian, and a Swiss racer all show up on your doorstep. If you’re looking for some news about this, go check out the article here. So what does the arrival of Heule, Berden, Johnson and Tonkin mean for Japanese cyclocross? It means that Cyclocross in Japan is exploding (see our Issue 16 feature on Japan), and Molly Cameron’s help in exposing Japan’s scene is working. But more importantly, this is a clear sign of the internationalization of the sport and its moving forward. The northern Europe-centric sport with a hotspot in the US is spreading, maybe with a little more expansion we’ll garner some more support for a Winter Olympic bid?

Niels Indulging A Little Bit Too Much the Past Few Weeks
Watching Niels ride away in Koksijde was beyond exciting. That was some of the smoothest riding I have seen on the sand ever, the only rider to ride equally as smooth was Nys, which was completely unsurprising. But since Albert has reclaimed his rainbow stripes, well, he’s been a little bit behind the eight ball, to say the least. Now, I know that winning the World Championships is a big deal. And Niels pretty much banked his whole season on winning in Koksijde after having another season to forget with his car accident. But, with the ’cross season stretching for a few more weeks after Worlds, you’d think you’d hold off on too much celebration until March. Well, last week’s performance and the week before showed that he’s been out on the town and drinking some bubbly (deservedly so), but a little justice may be due to the rainbow stripes, don’t you think?

Tom Meeusen, the Future
Watching the twig-like Meeusen rip past everyone when the course gets icy and knock the expected contenders off the top step is pretty exciting. It wasn’t just when the course was icy, even as Nys and Stybar were driving around the cold course at breakneck speed in Middelkerke last weekend, Meeusen came to the front to put in his fair share of the workload and then proceeded to outsprint Pauwels, the favorite in the field, with arguably the fastest sprint these days. Give it up for the young guns and to a long future to Meeusen at the front.

Wellens Looking to Come Back to the Field
Bart is on the mend, and looking to come back to racing, though with no expectations. I’m not going to get into the whole doping fiasco that is coloring his recent hospital stay. Rather, I’m glad to hear that he’s back on his bike and is looking to be back in the field again. Looking forward to seeing you out there again, Bart!

Boom Looking for a Little Tune Up
Lars Boom will be lining up at Cauberg this Saturday for a little tune up. With the road season opening up recently in South America, followed by Qatar and now in the Tour of Oman, Boom realizes a little intensity might not be a bad thing before Rabobank has him line up again for some classics season racing. What better way than a little ’cross? With road season here, you can expect Boom to be on form and maybe even remind everyone that he’s got those rainbow bands on his skinsuit for a reason.

Ain’t No Rest for Nys
There is no doubt that Nys is the winningest ’cross racer in the world and in history. You can’t deny this, even though his win count may seem down this season. Even if that is the case, with a win in the Superprestige Overall this past weekend, it is clear that there is nothing slowing the old man down, since it’s 2012 and he’s not even taking a rest. With the ’cross season still lasting a little bit longer, another week and the first Mountain Bike World Cup coming up soon in South Africa, there is not much time for a rest, but with top rides needed at the World Cups to garner one of those coveted Belgian Olympic team spots, there’s not much choice.