"The dominance of the Belgians in cross-country is no more" - Niels Albert analyses recent European cyclocross Championships

Cyclo-cross analyst Niels Albert has given his view on the European Championship weekend at HLN, in which Fem van Empel and Michael Vanthourenhout extended their European title for a year.

"The dominance of the Belgians in cross-country is no more," he began with a firm statement. "In the recent past we won medals in all categories. Not so in Pontchâteau. I am surprised. I expected better and thought we were in a better position internationally." In the juniors, the French won twice, while Zoe Backstedt and Van Empel won the other women's titles. In addition to Vanthourenhout, Jente Michels from Belgium ensured success among the promising men.

"We had a boring European Championship with the real professionals," Albert is clear in his opinion. "Good for Michael Vanthourenhout that he won, that boy rode well. As so often happens at a championship, Eli Iserbyt was not present. One time European champion, that's it for him. You would think: Pontchâteu, twisting, turning, a bit technical, that's a course he should be able to do. He had a puncture, yes, but there was no way he was going back."

The fact that top favorite Thibau Nys was not involved was not immediately an issue for the former rider. "Thibau gave up, that certainly wasn't his intention. You could have expected Thibau to be at the start of the European Championship for a result. He has already achieved that status at his young age. And he must be happy about that. Consider it a compliment, I would say, that the public expects Thibau to deliver. That just means that everyone thinks he is a good rider."

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