Belgian cyclist becomes European cyclo-cross champion
Michael Vanthourenhout can proudly call himself the European champion of cyclo-cross for the second year in a row.
Vanthourenhout had to face the fierce competition of compatriots like Thibau Nys, Eli Iserbyt and Laurens Sweeck on the 3-kilometre track in Pontchâteau, France. The champions had to face six climbs, the fifth of which peaked at a calf-biting 23% incline. People have been brought to their knees for less.
But we saw it was good. As good, in fact, as the weather was bad. Cyclo-cross fans didn’t get a bloodbath but rather a mudbath. The Belgian team was strong right out the gate, leading the race.
While the son of cyclo-cross legend and former world champion Sven Nys had an off day, last year’s European champion was on fire. Michael managed to escape as early as the third of eight rounds, crushing his opponents with a 20-second lead. He displayed his prowess on the bike, and with a little bit of bad luck for those chasing him, the score was settled.
Can he pull a hat trick next year? Vanthourenhout has proven to be incontournable in the European championships, always ending up on the podium or in fourth place. Only two other cyclists have managed to win the championship more than once.
Onward and upward, Michael!