It was a good day for Baloise Trek Lions during the Superprestige in Merksplas, despite many key members being absent from the team. Lucinda Brand was in great shape in the women's race - even putting Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado under pressure in the opening phase - and Joris Nieuwenhuis dominated from start to finish in the men's race. Team boss Sven Nys was pleased when talking to, but also said: "If we let all our guys start here, they won't be in shape by December."

The list of absentees from Nys's team was extensive: no Lars van der Haar, no Thibau Nys and no Pim Ronhaar. Add to that Shirin van Anrooij still not having made her cyclocross debut, and one might expect a bit of a struggle for the team. However, a superb performance by Nieuwenhuis and a semi-comeback by Brand ensured a successful day. "In the past, everyone could participate in every race," Nys explains. "But now the calendar is so full that you always have to disappoint some organizations. This time that's a Superprestige, but in the coming weeks, the riders will likely skip another World Cup."

Nys addresses Lappartient's statements: "We all want the sport to improve"

If it were up to UCI president David Lappartient, riders would not be allowed to skip any World Cup. "I really don't expect the regulations to be changed in the middle of this season. It seems to me that riders should be allowed to continue to choose where they do and don't race. We all want the sport to improve, and we agree on that. As far as I'm concerned, this should be discussed behind closed doors, with all involved parties. In the past, cyclocross races were scheduled so that everyone could participate in every race. Nowadays, the situation is such that every year there are a lot of disappointed organizers."

Nys even takes it one step further. "If you make the World Cup mandatory, it's the same as making the WorldTour mandatory on the road. There, you also see that riders don't race Liège-Bastogne-Liège but they do race Paris-Roubaix. In cyclocross, it's also true that not all top races are part of the World Cup. Take for example the Koppenbergcross and the race in Ruddervoorde. Making choices is part of the sport." Lucinda Brand, riding for Nys' team, was also adamant: "They can shove something down our throats, but that's not going to work."

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Nys pleased with Brand: "Condition-wise very very good, but too many technical errors"

We spoke to Nys before the start of the men's cyclocross. Brand had just finished second. "Condition-wise, I thought she was very good, but she made too many technical errors in the woods, causing her to lose too much ground. She had a seven-second lead on Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado going into that section, but was seven seconds behind when she came out of the woods. That means too many mistakes were made, especially if that happens again in the next round, then you are just being delayed by too many mistakes. She lost her confidence was a bit, but I am very proud of her physical form. She has come a long way and she's already the major challenger."

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