Spectators along the World Cup course in Tabor will not be able to shout Felipe Nystrom forward on Sunday. The Costa Rican cult hero left for the US a week after his clash with Mathieu van der Poel. “But I hope that I can return to Belgium next year to ride the cross in Namur.”
Flashback to the busy Christmas period. Crowd favorite Felipe Nystrom wanted to please a fan with a selfie during the cross in Gavere. But just as Nystrom got going again, Mathieu van der Poel came whizzing by.
There was a near-collision between the two cyclo-cross riders, which meant Van der Poel had no choice but to push his surprised colleague aside.
The Costa Rican felt guilty and was in sackcloth.
Despite a warm appeal from Van der Poel to stay in Belgium and not give up on his dream, Nystrom packed his bags a week later.
“I wanted to stay and compete in the World Cup, but I didn’t have enough money anymore,” sighs the Costa Rican. “After the cross in Gavere, my backers decided to turn off the tap.”
“Whether that has to do with the collision with Van der Poel? I honestly don’t know.”
100 working hours per week
With an empty wallet, Nystrom had no choice but to return to work.
“I work as a translator and interpreter in the US, 7 days a week, up to 15 hours a day,” says the Costa Rican.
“Today I started work at 5 a.m. My working day is over at 8:30 p.m. and I will try to train for another hour and a half.”
Because Nystrom dreams of being praised again by Belgian cyclo-cross fans next year.
“If there is one race I want to ride again, it is the Citadelcross in Namur. Why? Because Namur was my first cross in Europe with fans. That was a very special experience.”
I dream of becoming the oldest Costa Rican road champion ever.
The bicycle helped Nystrom out of the doldrums at the time. Abused during his youth, became homeless due to severe addictions and subsequently made 7 suicide attempts. Cycling helped him get back on track.
At 40, Nystrom still has a few things he wants to check off. “In a few months I would like to be the oldest Costa Rican to win the national road title.”
“I would also like to pass on my experience to young people. For example, to my compatriot Joseph Ramirez (who is participating in the U23 Cyclo-cross World Championships).”
“Joseph is a diamond in the rough with a lot of talent. I hope someone takes the opportunity to polish that diamond.”
Gratitude for Iserbyt and his wife
Will Nystrom be able to learn something from the Cyclo-cross World Championships during his working day on Sunday?
“Thanks to the time difference, I’ll be able to see some of it.”
“Without a fall, mechanical failure or a rider crashing into him, Van der Poel will become world champion,” it sounds hardly surprising.
“But if something does happen to Van der Poel, which I really hope not, then I will grant it to Michael Vanthourenhout.”
“He always says hello to me when I meet him at the cross country. A very friendly guy and he seems to be in shape just in time after a difficult season.”
Nystrom mentions a second Belgian who he would like to see in the rainbow jersey: Eli Iserbyt.
“After the incident with Van der Poel, Iserbyt’s wife was the first to reassure me at the finish. She said that Mathieu would have forgotten that near collision a day later. I am still very grateful to Eli and his wife for that. for.”