Niels Albert had time to look around in Cincinatti, and liked what he saw: nobody on his wheel. © Cyclocross Magazine

Niels Albert had time to look around in Cincinatti, and liked what he saw: nobody on his wheel. © Cyclocross Magazine

by Molly Hurford

Cyclocross Magazine was lucky enough to get to spend some time in the RV at Kings CX in Cincinnati on Saturday with three of the best racers in Europe: Niels Albert, Wietse Bosmans and Radomir Simunek. We talked with them about their impressions of the US so far and their thoughts on Worlds, Louisville, and the courses that they’ve had the chance to experience. They’re liking US cyclocross, especially the fans, and despite working with less staff and support than they’re used to, they seem to be having a great time.

On the course in Louisville:

Niels Albert: Yesterday was really, really fast, but with the hot temperatures and lots of rain, I think it’s going to be a lot different, so we will see.

Radomir Simunek: It’s going to be a very hard race.

Wietse Bosmans: I think it’s going to be, the top layer is going to be a little muddy. It’s going to be good for both of us [he and Niels].

Louisville compared to the Euro courses:

NA: It’s more the same. The ground is a little different, there are lots of rocks, but we’ve raced in different countries all over Europe, so I think it’s not that different.

WB: There won’t be as many crowds, and also, the people who are building the tracks in Belgium, there are hundreds of people building the tracks. Here, it’s a little bit less.

NA: Yesterday we saw five or six people building the Worlds track, so it was a little bit of surprise.

Is this different, a venue without a lot of people around?

NA: Yeah, I’m not used to it! When we race in Belgium, there are 20,000 people, so it’s a little bit different.

RS: The people are a little more crazy here. It’s noisier and more fun, I think.

Looking forward to racing with an American fan base?

NA: I think the people are excited to have Belgian riders here and to have Worlds here next week, so I think they’re happy that all the riders want to race today for this competition. And to ride without lots and lots of people, we can do our own thing and prepare for Worlds. Otherwise, we must train every day, so this is a little different.

What about jet lag and not being in places you’re used to?

RS: For me, I didn’t have a problem. But I came in the evening and went to sleep so it was no problem.

Have you gotten to see Louisville at all?

WB: No time to go out! We did go to the outlet of Nike to buy some shoes. In Belgium it’s very expensive but here it’s cheap. These [gestures to shoes] are one of the three pairs I buy. But we didn’t see a lot of Louisville, only on the bike. We do want to go see the museum of Muhammad Ali because we heard he’s from here.

RS: I see downtown from behind car.

Do you stay after Worlds or leave right away?

NA: We fly back on Monday, and then we’re in Tuesday in Belgium and race on Wednesday in Belgium, so that’s going to be very hard with jet lag.

Will you watch the Super Bowl?

NA: I think the Super Bowl starts at 7:30? And the race is until 4. And when I … when we … win, there’s a press conference and everything. Otherwise, I think I won’t be in the mood for making lots of fun.

RS: I’d like to see the Super Bowl in real life but I don’t watch much American football.

What do you think of the Kings CX course?

WB: It’s very long lap. It’s fast. But I think it’s hard, there’s a lot of up and down. It’s a little bit slippery right now. It’s a very big lap.

Who handles the best in slick, snowy conditions?

[Albert points at Simunek] NA: He does.

RS: I think this track is not so much snow, I think it’s very very hard today, it’s up and down and I think the best rider will be the strongest riders, so I think the Worlds Champion will win.

Out of the US racers, who are your biggest challenges?

NA: I don’t know. Jeremy Powers.

RS: Jonathan Page is a good ‘cross racer in Europe, we just saw him there!

Do you have less support out here than you’re used to, in terms of mechanics and soigneurs?

NA: Normally, we only race with two or three mechanics and one soigneur. So normally, we have four people who helps one rider in the race, and right now we only have three people to help three racers.

Were you excited about Worlds being in the US?

NA: A little bit, but it’s very expensive. I’m more excited when it was three or four or five races, but now you must have all the materials here, all the wheels, all the bikes, and it’s very expensive for one race. When you win on Sunday, at Worlds, it’s no problem, but when you lose, it’s a lot of money away, and it’s a shame. But it’s the same for Powers, he always comes to Europe for racing, but he comes for three or four weeks and then he comes back. So it’s a little bit different.

Stay tuned to our Worlds 2013 homepage for more updates!