Tom Vannoppen Hangs It Up

Tom Vannoppen, 29, once thought to be the next dominant Belgian cyclocrosser, retired from cycling this week. Vannoppen nearly won the world title in Zolder in 2002 but since has suffered several rough years which involved multiple injuries, depression, and last season, a drug scandal. He tested positive for cocaine and was fired by his Sunweb-Projob team, the former team of American Jonathan Page.

The once-promising rider has decide to hang it up after his latest struggles. He told Gazet van Antwerpen, “Look, I’ve had an awful lot of bad luck. Every time I came level, there was again setback… It has been a battle that I did not appear to be able to win.”

Vannoppen complains the media has reported many falsehoods about the drug scandal but he no longer cares. “I can no longer fight. I am not for the character,” he says.

Other ‘Cross Stars Building Fitness on the Road

Bart Wellens is starting to ramp up for the upcoming cyclocross season, and took an impressive win in Monday’s opening stage of the Volta Continental a Lleida. Wellens sprinted to victory out of a five-man breakaway, just ahead of a hard-charging peloton that finished only six seconds in arrears. World Champ and flying Dutchman Lars Boom, fresh off his victory in the Olympia Tour, took second in the field sprint to finish seventh. Wellens held the leader’s jersey through Tuesday’s Stage 2 before losing it to Marcel Beima on Stage 3 when a two man breakway escaped the field.

World Cup winner and Olympic mountain bike hopeful Sven Nys competed in the Tour of Belgium last week, finishing 32nd overall and coming close to a final day stage win. Nys powered a five-man breakway that stayed away for most of the stage before getting caught with just 5k to go. Espoir World Champ Niels Albert finished the race 65th overall, which ended last Sunday, June 1.

What are you doing to get ready for ‘cross? Winning stage races and racing the Olympics? Don’t worry, we’re not either. It’s a long season…