TODAY'S reappearance of 2008 World champion Lars Boom adds an intriguing and exciting angle to the feast of racing over the festive period. Boom will start in his first 'cross race for almost two years today (Saturday) in the World Cup at Heusden-Zolder (Boom went down with gastroenteritis and missed two planned races last weekend).
This season's World Championship (January 31st) is also on the course at the Heusden-Zolder motor racing circuit which should suit Boom and he has not ruled a title tilt out if his performances warrant selection and his road team, Astana, agree to his participation which seems likely.
The twenty-nine-year-old Dutchman announced a (at least) four-race programme at the start of December and told the media: "I have missed 'cross, it's a bit of fun, but the sport have given me a lot so this limited programme makes me happy."
As long ago as August it became clear that Boom was training on a cyclocross bike so the biggest surprise was actually the number of races he had planned to compete in - which hinted at a possible World title bid.
The tall Dutchman's has not raced 'cross since the Dutch National Championship in January 2013 where he lost his title to a young Lars van der Haar. Boom won six senior Dutch cyclocross titles between 2007 and 2012 as well as six in the younger age groups. He is also one of only two riders to have won a World 'cross title in all three categories (junior, Under-23 and elite), the other being Czech 'cross legend Radomir Simunek Snr.
When asked by reporters if he planned to extend his season further into January Boom answered: "The Dutch championship I certainly do not I start because I am leaving with Astana on January 6th for the Tour Down Under. The Worlds? That's still a question mark and it depends on so many factors - the level of my cross performances, preparation for the Spring classics. It's too early to make a decision."
Boom also intends to race in Loenhout (Trofee, December 29th), Bredene (C2-ranked, December 30th) and Surhuisterveen (C2-ranked, January 2nd).
Enjoy your day if you get the chance to see today's racing. In the World Cup Van Aert and Eva Lechner are the series leaders.
Broadcast details (heavily geo-restricted)
The Zolder World Cup will be broadcast on the UCI's YouTube channel, but this week the UK is geo-restricted (due to Eurosport buying partial UK rights to the series) amongst other countries.
Elite women (start: 13:30 CET)
Elite men (start: 15:00 CET)