What Happens When Half a Rivalry is Gone?

Anyone who knows me, my photography and films well, knows cyclocross has been a regular and central inspiration. For the past ten years I've made films and photographed cyclocross across the US, in Spain, Belgium, Holland, and Japan. For a large part of those years it has been a great pleasure to watch the regular and dogged battling between two greats of the sport; Niels Albert and Sven Nys. For most fans I think that a rivalry is a necessary part of sport. Two athletes with differing or opposing personalities, ride styles, swagger, and speech, but who on most occasions are the nearest equals in their sport--The rivalry of Albert and Nys has been all of that. Today was a sad day for the sport, and for an unfinished rivalry. Due to a rare heart condition Niels Albert has abruptly quit professional cyclocross. I loved that the rivalry of Albert and Nys was between two athletes who chose cyclocross. They both undoubtably could have made the switch to higher profile professional road cycling. But they stuck with their hearts and raced cyclocross. It is not every era that has such a perfect rivalry, and it will be sad to see the end of Nys' career (he's near it now) without the fire of the younger Albert hot to impose dominance. It's a missed story, missed drama, an overarching theme which for us fans ties together the weekly battles. With great respect and understanding, the fans will wish Albert good health and a long life, and we will miss his beautiful performances on the parcours.
Niels Albert
The newly awarded World Champion Niels Albert leads Sven Nys during Krawatencross. Lille, Belgium. 2012.

No comments:

Post a Comment