Written by Llotyhy of Hog Bay CT
Once again, the Clash of Nations has come to an end. For the uninitiated, the CoN is a week in which the best World Tour nations compete in seven races. To me, it’s the best week of the season, even though it usually turns out to be a big disappointment for my own country. The week starts on Day 30 with a climbing race, the next day we have a sprint race, then a time trial, a hill race, a cobbles race, another climbing race and another sprint race. The goal is obviously to score as many points as possible, the country that does wins the Clash of Nations.
Of course, the competition is not on equal terms. The national team manager of Burundi can choose from a roster of 26 riders for example, while the national team manager of Spain has 4493 at his service. This doesn’t diminish the fun however, since everyone has something to fight for. In a normal season, only Norway and Netherlands have a realistic shot at the title, while a small group of other countries have an outside chance. Last season we had a hugely surprising CoN, with a joint victory for Belgium and Portugal, let’s see what happened this season.
Starting off in Delhi, current best World Tour rider of the world, Dean van der Meer , dominated the first climbing race. France, Portugal and Norway followed the Dutchman home and scored important points. Biggest loser of the day was Belgium, reigning champion, who failed to score a single point. In Beijing, Roar Brun won the race for the third time in his career, bagging the full 200 points. Once again,
Portugal, France and the Netherlands finished in the rest of the top 4 places, making it a four-country race after just two out of seven days.
The third day of the CoN is often a very important one. CoN Washington City TT can be very unpredictable. This season, Florian Everaerts was the best in the streets of the American capital. In the race for the title, Portugal and France failed to score, while Norway took a lead over the Netherlands by finishing third, four places higher up than the Dutch. In Sydney, Van Melton won, while Portugal and France completed the podium, bringing themselves back in the fight.
Then came the decisive day of this season, CoN Paris, on day 5. Lucas Loudon won, while four-time winner Even Erlandsen from Norway finished second. Netherlands, France and Portugal all failed to score, which pretty much cemented Norway’s victory. In CoN Rio de Janeiro, the penultimate race, Euzebiusz Jastrzebski won his first World Tour race, while Norway ended up on ninth, holding onto a 160 points advantage for the last race. This meant the Netherlands had to win CoN Cape Town, while Norway would have to finish tenth at the highest. Netherlands surely delivered, because Robin van Zijp led home the peloton in South Africa, but it was Roar Brun from Norway who pushed his wheel over the line in second place, clinching another CoN win for Norway.