After the Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, you said something that sent shivers of dread throughout your fans and cross fans in general.
“It could be that I’ve ridden my last World Championship.” Nys said to Sporza.
We all understand that you were disappointed by your race on Sunday. Though you have won almost everything these past years – Superprestige series, GvA Trophy and World Cup overall numerous times each – but that second rainbow jersey still eludes you since your first in 2005. You were fit, you said you were ready for the race, you were the pre-race favorite but it didn’t materialize. We get it, you were bummed when whisked to the Sporza studio minutes after crossing the line to take seventh.
But please I ask you to reconsider your decision. You see this is more important than you, this is about cross, a sport that you profess to love. It’s about globalization and internationalization which you have embraced in the past years.
Two things were obvious this weekend. The first was a given, cross is huge in Belgium, over 60,000 fans showed up on Sunday, really an unbelievable number. The other is that elite men race is still dominated by the Belgians.
Where are the riders from other nations that were strong as junior or under23? Do you remember, we talked about that issue during our chat last year.
“We can try to do everything we can in Belgium to let the sport grow in other countries but it’s not so easy when they are talented and motivated [riders] they see it in their countries they say oh you must ride on the road or you must do mountain biking and that’s the reason why it stops.” you said.
Riders such as Lars Boom, Peter Sagan, Roman Kreuziger that chose to focus on the road. We – I say we as a member of the extended cross family – need to find a way to make it viable for riders to make a living and be able to focus on cyclocross.
Your presence, and the attention that your presence would bring, is essential to the growth of the sport outside of Belgium. Simply said, to grow the sport outside of Belgium, you must be willing to sacrifice a bit of your form to come to the United States.
When asked about your comment, newly crowned World Champion Niels Albert said “I would find it a pity if Sven would stop cycling World Championships. I don’t think you can judge someone on his world championships titles, this season has been very nice. Kevin has the World Cup, Sven has the Belgian Championships and I have the World Championships. It would really be a pity if Sven stopped cycling the World Championships.”
Niels is right, we won’t and can’t judge someone by his World Championships results. But we do judge people by their actions.
It’s time to walk the talk Sven. You must come to Louisville 2013.
Don’t worry, we’ll show you a grand ol’ time.