A Word With Sven Vanthourenhout, Belgium’s New Cyclocross Coach

For the second year in a row, ex-professionals Sven Nys and Sven Vanthourenhout led a cyclocross clinic in Chicago while en route to the U.S. World Cups. This year, Vanthourenhout arrived at the clinic in his Belgium national team kit as his federation’s newly-minted cyclocross coach. I asked him a few questions about his new role and some other challenges he has taken on lately.

Ethan Glading: I know it’s only been a month or so since you have been the coach for Belgian Cycling but how is that going?

Sven Vanthourenhout: It is going well. It’s a big difference of course. It’s another way of working than I am used to in the last 16-or-so months. It’s a nice opportunity and it’s a nice goal to reach.

Here in the U.S. at USA Cycling there’s been a lot of big changes, with the performance people especially, trying to rejuvenate things. Is there a similar process happening now in Belgian Cycling?

Of course, you try every year, every moment to bring something new and you have to build on to that for the future. This is also, in Belgium, very important. You have to work with young people and you have to invest in the future. I am trying to help that as much as possible.

In recent years it seems like the Belgians have under-performed at Worlds. Not the elite men, but the other categories compared with, say, the Dutch. Is that something you are looking to address?

Yeah, of course. Also, the French. And last year in the juniors category three British riders were on the podium. So that’s something that’s really important and that we have to look at as the Belgian Federation and we have to work on that. It’s also one of the reasons that they contacted me. To work on the future. To bring the young guys again to a higher level. The Elite category is still top in Belgium.

On a personal note for you, you are taking on some other challenges. I saw that you did a triathlon. What sparked that?

The swimming was really hard for me. The riding and the running was ok. Running was quite good actually. Swimming was really hard. But I need sport every day. So I don’t miss the competition anymore but every day I need something to do. My passion is sport. Little goals. Like now a triathlon and a running race, those are things that I like.

Any big goals? Are you looking at an Ironman?

Maybe. I always said that I want to do an Ironman. I started now with a quarter[-distance triathlon]. My next one will be a half maybe and we will see in two or three years.

All photos © Ethan Glading.


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