Cyclocross World Championships 2014 in Hoogerheide
I have not been following cyclocross this season very much. I got absorbed by triathlon and instead of watching cycloX world cup races, I became an eager consumer of videos about swimming and tri-transition techniques. I realized that the 2014 World Championship takes place in the Netherlands just a few days before the actual racing weekend. When I discovered that the double world X champion Zdeněk Štybar is also going to compete, I did not hesitate a second and went to get myself a ticket for the Sunday’s Men Elite Race.
The champs took place in Hoogerheide, south of the Netherlands. It was fairly easy to get there from Amsterdam: taking a train from A’dam Centraal to Bergen op Zoom and from there on by bus to Hoogerheide. The bus stop in Bergen was situated just next to the main railway station and also identification of the correct platform was pretty obvious: it was full of people with trumpets and hats in the color of Belgian flag. We got off the crammed bus basically just next to the entrance to the racing site. As I said: easy!
I set off from Amsterdam at 8 and reached the final destination at 11, so I was there just in time for the start of the category Men U23. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people. I overheard on the bus someone talking about 50,000 spectators!
During the first race of the day I walked (or rather pushed though) along the racing track to get an idea about its layout. Apart from the masses of people, the volume of mud was also impressive. I managed to accumulate muddy layers on my shoes up to ankles within 10 minutes.
After the U23 race I met my team mates from ATAC who had been in Hoogerheide since Saturday. We gulped down a homemade peasoup, chatted through the previous course of the champs and after two o’clock went to find a nice spot from where to follow the main race starting at three. Because the guys preferred to stay close to a screen, meanwhile I was keen on running up and down the track, we split up. I left them at one of the screens and went to find a cool spot beside the track. I squeezed in among a gang of Belgian dads right under the short and steep slope.
The tension in the air a few last minutes before the start was stifling. And became even more apparent during the race that was about to come.
Long honking resonates in our ears: the race has started!
For the first few minutes we hear just the commentator from a loudspeaker. The waves of the overall uproar moves through the crowds and when it reaches the bundle of spectators behind the curve, we know the riders are approaching our spot.
And here they come!
Creaking of the brakes and the cyclists are sliding downhill through a sharp curve and immediately sprinting to a short climb.
I am running uphill next to the track to reach them again on an asphalt stretch, where I can support the riders. Štyby catches the front! Great!
For the next two laps I stay atop next to the long asphalt passage. It offers a solid overview and an excellent opportunity for cheering on the guys. But Zdeněk is still in the front of the race with a bunch of Belgian riders and I can’t stand not to know about the immediate course of his actions.
I rush therefore downhill to reach a screen where I stand for a half of one lap to get a better idea about the progress. Then I hurry back to the track to cheer on Štyby instantly.
The screen shows there are only Zdeněk Štybar and Belgian Sven Nys in the front! Quickly back to the track – uphill, downhill and up again and I am dashing to the flat stratch yelling "Go Štyby, go!"
And again back to the screen among the crowds of Belgians who are screaming "Sven!!!" howling down my cheering of Zdeněk. I am pissing them off, but I don’t care at all.
A few minutes later a technical fault sends Štybar to the ground. Sven speeds up and is now leading. The Belgians roar in delight.
But Štyby is quickly back and I am shouting myself hoarse.
The last lap!
The two of them are still fighting at the very front!
Now Sven is on the ground and Štyby builds up a lead of a few seconds. A hesitation of the Belgian during a short run uphill and Zdeněk is in the final flat stratch speeding up to the finish line to get his third title of the world champion.
I am sprinting uphill and pushing myself through the crowds to get myself close to the podium. My heart is going to jump out of my chest, euphoria is overwhelming.
Second place Sven Nys, third Kevin Pauwels. But the Belgians can’t be really happy since the winner is not from Belgium.
Flag – anthem – all the Czech fans roaring Štyby!
I was dazed … but not so much to forget about getting back home. I phoned to my friends who instructed me to meet them at the car park. Fifteen minutes and 2 km of run in muddy shoes later I am sitting in their car on the way back to Amsterdam. It was an awesome afternoon. The best Sunday I have experienced in Holland so far.
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February 5, 2014, 01:03 (No. 131)Tomas cyklokrosar
Uzasne napsany clanek. Kajo Ty jsi se minula povolanim. Jako sportovni redaktorka by jsi jiste byla velmi popularni Ty emoce jsou citit az sem. Tak snad jeste Stybyho taky zaziju nazivo ;-)