Dispatch: World Cup-Zolder

Notes on the Elite Women’s Race and Dirty Dogs from Guest Contributor Jeremy Dunn

It’s the morning of the World Cup and everything is dark and dismal. One SunWeb Projob guy is out on the sidewalk next to the hotel riding the rollers. The dampness is everywhere although no one can tell me if it has rained or not. Either way when we get to the course it looks muddier than the day before. It was muddy then. Upon arrival it was a blur. Hairy legs on an American racer on the third step of the podium. Nervous, smiling faces from the ladies as they take the start line. The crowds part for the ever-present Marianne Vos. One guy is looking at her saddle. Many guys are looking at her saddle. She smiles at the crowd and waves and that is when I notice – Holy shit…there are a lot of people here. Pressed up against the fences and leaning out over the course tape, they are everywhere. All of them smoking. Most of them drinking. No one cares that this dog is dirty as hell, least not him. He looks like used snow. In fact, if this were my dog I would call him just that: Used Snow.

Marriane goes on to win. No one is surprised by this. The ride of the day comes from the Belgian National Champion, Sanne Cant who thrashed her way into 4th after a poor start. PFP was there too and worked her way into the top five. Sabrina Schweizer, the German was not happy with 17th, but looked good all the same. She punched her bars and shouted into the face of her brand new UCI Chaperone when they told her that she was selected for the Anti-Doping test, “Always me, its me every time!” Caroline Mani made painfaces for 40 straight minutes and then ended the race with a smile. Julie Krasniak appeared to do the opposite until I realized smiles can be painfaces too.

Mud. Belgians. The Swiss. A German or two and then some Wieners. A winner and then the day came to a dark, damp close as we headed out of the arena holding close to 25,000 screaming fans. Most of them now taking a brief moment to have a break next to your car, or along the roadway, or right out in the open. It doesn’t matter until it does.

Text and images by Jeremy Dunn.