In Pontchâteau they are holding their breath and crossing their fingers. The European Cyclocross Championships will take place there on Saturday and Sunday. Unless autumn storm Ciarán decides otherwise. “At the moment everything is going ahead as planned, but that could change quickly,” said Pontchâteau.
The route has been drawn out and laid out, tents have been set up, all facilities have been taken. “We have not yet installed the advertising panels,” says Bernard Clouet, coordinator of the European Championship. “We don’t want them to blow away just yet.”
Clouet is doing a final inspection of the site, he says, when we call him on Wednesday evening. “The storm should start in three or four hours.” That’s nine o’clock on Wednesday evening. “By Thursday morning we should have had the worst of it.”
And then they have to see if any damage has been done. Clouet: “We are a bit worried. What else can we do but wait? We have a meeting with the organizing committee on Thursday. Then we have to decide whether the match can take place.”
In Brittany, all other sports events for the weekend have been canceled, Clouet says. “The prefecture has made an exception for us. We are the only event during the entire weekend.”
But even if all tents and fences have survived the night, things can still go wrong. Clouet: “A new storm is forecast on Saturday. It will be less heavy than the first, but we also have to see about that.”
Belgian national coach Sven Vanthourenhout received confirmation from the organization on Tuesday evening that the European Championships will indeed go ahead. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some changes here and there in the competition programme. I already heard that it is being considered to cancel the mixed team relay. And if you believe the weather reports, the European Championship simply cannot take place. We have experienced another European Championship in which all races were held on one day (in 2018 in Rosmalen). And the World Championships in Louisville (in 2013) were even brought forward by a day, because the course would be flooded on Sunday.”
The stormy weather in France certainly has consequences for the Belgian European Championship participants. Tomorrow they would travel by TGV to Nantes, and from there drive to Pontchâteau. However, on Tuesday it was decided in France that, due to the storm, train traffic in the northwest of the country will be canceled. National coach Vanthourenhout said he was considering taking the plane, but the decision was made to travel more than 700 kilometers by car. “On Thursday we will gather in Kortrijk with about twenty riders and staff members from Belgian Cycling. From there we will drive to the European Championships together.”
And that’s ten: after nine times father Sven wins, Thibau Nys unleashed for the first time on the Koppenberg
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