I read recently that cyclocross is now the most watched sport on television in Belgium, ahead of even soccer. Belgians love the sport and their stars de Clerq, Wellens, Vervecken, Nys and others have dominated it in recent years, and no country has come close to unseating them. Last year, American Jonathan Page scored a silver behind Vervecken, but the two only got away after misfortune struck front runners Nys and Wellens.
This year, at the championships, Belgium was turned on its head. Lars Boom of the Netherlands broke Belgium’s seven-year hold on the rainbow jersey, attacking Sven Nys of Belgium and Czech Zdenek Stybar early in the final lap. Stybar then outsprinted the usually dominant Nys. Meanwhile, Page didn’t have the legs and trailed in 23rd, just a few places ahead of the other Americans. Still he was only 41 seconds down. As a side note, Brit Rob Jebb of Three Peaks fame (and winner of Ironcross this year) came in 51st.
In the women’s race, Katie Compton withdrew in the first lap citing a muscle injury, but American Rachel Lloyd did manage 9th just behind Canadian Wendy Simms in 7th.
There’s always next year.