Niels Albert on his way to his world champion title in Koksijde. - Balint Hamvas (www.cyclephotos.co.uk)
Think back to when you were seven, or eight, or maybe twelve years old, and your parents took you for a trip to the beach. For some that may have been a two minute walk, for others it meant a few hours in the car, and for some of you it was a bit of nature only enjoyed on holidays. But for all, it was special.
Nearing the coast, you can sense the changes in topography (except for Ted, for whom everything stayed the same). Everything flattened out. Your gaze can go for miles and miles to the end of the horizon, unobstructed by hills or valleys. In the air, you can smell the salt. The sea is near.
Parking near the coast, you can hardly keep your excitement in check, and as soon as your parents give you to the go, you race towards the sea, trying to get to the water as fast as possible.
And then. Stumble. Fall. Trip.
Damn sand, slowing down your every move. Awesome for playing and building castles and nap-taking but really, for running? No way.
Now imagine cycling in it. One word: misery.
Luckily, tomorrow, you don't have to cycle in sand, you just have to watch others do it. And that's way more fun than doing it yourself. Tomorrow, it's time for the World Cup race in Koksijde (pronunciation lesson for giggles: cock-say-duh). If that sounds familiar, then it's probably because that's where last year's world championships were (you know, the ones where Belgium placed one, two, three, four, five, six and seven).
That race was won by Niels Albert, and he even got one of the dunes on that course named after him. In fact, it's where he proposed to his girlfriend (I'm sorry Albertina). So, Albert is pretty good at this. But last year's world cup was won by Sven Nys, so he's also pretty good at this (surprise factor of that statement: zero). And Nys, he very narrowly outsprinted Kevin Pauwels last year. So yeah. Should be fun tomorrow.
1. start / finish
2. sand: short up and down section
3. pits: very important, as sand tends to fuck bikes right up
4. sand: long sand section #1
6. some hills. just for fun. cause otherwise it'd be too easy
7. grassland, and a quick little sandy incline. oh, and another bridge
8. sand: long sand section #2. and then pits again
9. steep hill, with a sand section at the top
If you want some more detailed info on the course, I direct you to last year's World Championships course preview: World, meet sand. In short: there's shitloads of sands, it's very tiring and highly technical.
The men's race starts at 15h CET, Sporza is with us 15min earlier (which is also when the live thread goes up). Come join us!