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Re: General Cyclocross News
« Reply #180 on: January 30, 2021, 12:33 »
Sorry to quote myself, it's not really decent but I thought it was nice to look back to a Gazet van Antwerpen article from 29 September 2016 [from the 2016/2017 Season Preview Thread) :

Belgian Championship on 8 January will be held in Ostend. For the 100th edition Belgian fed have designed a temp bridge linking the beach to the hippodrome.  :lol

It's will be the first ever cyclocross nats in Ostend.

Socialist mayor Johan Vande Lanotte said he did everything to make sure that riders take the beach. Besides, they ambition to organise the Worlds in 2021.

It will be a 2650m route including 1342m on grass, 480m on the sand, 413m on cinder, 80m on asphalt and 335m on the bridge, the eyecatcher of the route. 8 meters above the railway (I think it must be the coast tram). The finish will be on the hippodrome.

Paul Herygers claims it's a route for Wout Van Aert who can make use of his power and running capacities. (Well every route are for Wout Van Aert, I guess)

It's not a real hard route, says the former World Champion but there are hard passages like the one whereby the riders are leaving the beach to take the bridge but it will be a nice championship, he says.

So it seems they fulfilled their ambition, four year and four months later.  :D I don't know if the route remains roughly the same, let us see. As expected Van Aert won that event quite comfortably but that season, there was no match on him on the Belgian scene. 

Post Merge: January 30, 2021, 12:42
I don't know if I shared that article. I think it will be previously unreleased. It's from the Krant van West Vlaanderen, 30 September 2016 (Krant van West Vlaanderen is a weekly, published every Friday). I don't have time to translate right now but might come back to it later on

Post Merge: January 30, 2021, 16:23

What do the West-Flemish riders think about it?

So Michael Vanthourenhout [then aged 22] was then about to race his 4th Nats (in 2017) and he said that it would be something special because he had never raced on a beach before. He referred to the Zilvermeer in Mol but the Zilvermeer is a lake and a lake beach is not comparable to a sea beach. He thought that the bridge length and the extra vertical meters would be in his favour. In rainy conditions, he thinks that the race would be even harder if only for the fact that the beach sand section would easier rideable.

Diether Vanthourenhout (by then aged 31 and coming a bit stronger after a disappointing 2015/2016 season) agreed with his younger brother that it was going to be something special. He rather pointed towards the fact that there were a lot of straight line section. He knew the hippodrome quite well as he went there a few years before to visit the cross-country running nationals. He compared the course to the 2014 Waregem Nats (then won Sven Nys of course). He was wondering whether the beach section would be running or riding [as far as I remember, in 2017, they were mostly riding, all of them]. The weather might be the decider and he thinks unlike his brother that in bad weather it would be running on the sand which would be even more in Van Aert's favour than it already is. It would be a hard race anyway.

Gianni Vermeersch [then 23] was then living 20 km from Ostend [I don't know if he moved house since] and found always fun to race in his own area. His attention was mainly focused on the bridge because the highest bridge they had to cross until then was in Hamme-Zogge but it wasn't higher than 100m. The Bridge in Ostend is 129m ascent (335 m in total). It would be quite an effort, certainly when you keep in mind that you would've just finished a heavy section (the one on the beach).

Eli Yserbyt [by then a rookie aged 18 agreed with Diether Vanthourenhout that it would be something for the big motors, with a lot of straight line sections. He read that the bridge was 8m above the ground with a 21% gradient and concluded that it would weigh in the finale. He also thought that they might have to run on the beach. A lot will be decided by the weather. If it's freezing cold, it would be a fast speed tactical  cross. He doesn't wish it. If it's rainy, they could ride on the beach but the section on the hippodrome would be hard. He had an appartment on the coast, so he was often riding on the beach. He also compared it to Waregem 2014.

Klaas Vantornout [meanwhile retired] had also often trained on a beach like in Lombardsijde [that's 15 km West of Ostend, Freddy Maertens hometown as part of Nieeuwpoort] but never raced, which made it something special. With ebb and flow, it's gonna be something rare. Organisers surely had considered that issue. Tyre's choice : slicks as wide as possible but then there's that section on the hippodrome on which he never rode. So it might after all be rhino. The distance between the bridge and the hardest part of the beach is very long. Perhaps it can be ridden through with the necessary speed but this would certainly no longer be possible on the return.

So the cost for that Belgian Nats was evaluated at 900,000€ (how much more for this year's Worlds?). They expected between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators (I don't know how many actually there had been?), 1,500 VIP's and 2,000 people staying for the night in Ostend. The Hippodrome is named after the Duke of Wellington : "Wellingtonrenbaan"  :lol I didn't know that. The finish on a hippodrome is unique for the spectator to watch. Obviously there's a high screen to follow the race. The organisers of the nats were the cyclocross and road cycling committee Hooglede-Gits - that's the town that organised the 2007 cyclocross Worlds (also in the West Flanders province but much further in the inlands).

Paul Herygers was co-designer of the route and even though on the GvA article he said it wasn't such a hard route, he also thought that only the strongest could win it and that should've been Wout Van Aert (eventually was).

The bridge should've been ready on 15 December 2016 (while the nats were raced on 7-8 January 2017) but it was not accessible for the public. There are two lanes on it. It's 6 meters wide altogether. Of course, there can't be any spectators on the bridge but it's equipped with transparent safety nets (1,5 m above the lanes) so that the riders can be seen from the ground.

An alternative route was planned in case of extreme circumstances such as a hurricane, which occurred only every 25 years on the Belgian coast.

In history, two cyclocross riders came from Ostend. One is the late Norbert Dedeckere (1948-2015), former amateur World Champion in Prague in 1972 #rainbow and Charles "Charel" [as they named him in the newspaper] Vanhoutte, at that time aged 87 and still alive now at age 91. He was himself Dedeckere's "tutor" and later organiser of the "Noordzeecross" ("North Sea Cross") in Middelkerke, which he himself won in 1963 ahead of international stars such as Renato Longo  or Rolf Wolfshohl and despite that fact, he never was selected for the Worlds, which he's still angry about a half century afterwards.
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