Kenny Belaey captures record-setting bronze in China

Equal on points with the world champion after thriller in Chengdu

Kenny Belaey captures record-setting bronze in China

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A trials World Championship final has rarely been as tight and exciting. Kenny Belaey was never so tantalisingly close to a world title without winning. Superlatives can be cheap but by all accounts the inaugural UCI Urban Cycling world championship in China produced the closest and most thrilling racing of the season! When the dust had settled after the one lap, five sections-long final Kenny Belaey matched the final score of world champion Jack Carthy and runner-up Nicolas Vallée.

Qualifying fifth in the semi-final on Friday Belaey knew he had to step it up to challenge for his fifth Elite world title. Belgian cycling’s captain rode three decent laps but made too many errors to to pressure coming men Jack Carthy and Nicolas Vallée.

True to form the Belgian trials legend performed at the best of his abilities tonight when it mattered under the floodlights of Chengdu. By far the oldest competitor in the final Belaey got off to a great start. Three sections into the race it was clear that the Mybike rider went all-in for the win. The gap to early leader Vincent Hermance and Vallée was minimal. To add further fuel to the fire world champion and huge favourite Carthy came back relentlessy after a weak start. The young Brit was simply in a league of his own in the third and fourth sections. More than ever fans were spoilt, not the least by the new scoring system that rewards how far you make it into the section.

Kenny remained in the mix, fighting for the world crown right till the end. It was indeed on the very last rock section -slightly misleading in terms of difficulty by its cute panda decoration- that the 2017 world title would be decided. The Magician finished strong to score 40 points in the fifth section. His totally tally of 220 points was exactly the same like Carthy’s and Vallée’s! His main rivals were respectively 13 and 15 years his junior… Continuing his legacy of uninterrupted podium runs since 2009 has been the hard-earned reward for an intense preparation and love for his craft. Belaey will round off his Urban Cycling World championship experience with his very first Worlds entry in the XCE Eliminator event tomorrow, Sunday.

Kenny Belaey: “This is a pretty strange feeling. I’m actually not that tired and I feel like putting in another lap, just to mend what went wrong or something like that. Because I was ever so very close this time! There was a soft spot where I landed near the very end of the fourth section. That’s where my foot came off the pedal and that’s literally what costed me the world title. But that’s part of elite sport too. Obviously the others made their mistakes as well and overall I’m very pleased with how things went! My preparation had been awesome so it feels great to translate that into results. This is my 14th time on the podium in 16 Elite World championship participations, something that’s hard to grasp even for myself! (grins) Especially if you look at how tough the competition is and how high the current level is. It’s actually funny to realise that Jack (Carthy) and Nicolas (Vallée) together are just four years older than me!

Friday was a bit of a nightmare really. I think I suffered some kind of food poisoning, and the dirty air affected me as well. In the semi-final I was nowhere near the level I needed to be. My riding was too tense and I even had to throw up at some point. In those circumstances it was a solid achievement in its own right to make the final. As far as the new scoring procedure goes we can easily say this has been a great première! The riding and fighting is even more intense because of it and it makes the races easier to relate to for the public and media. Even though it was a pity to be so close yet to miss out on the title I can’t take anything away from Jack Carthy’s performance. He came back strong and showed a couple of moves no one else was capable of. So congrats to him and Nicolas (Vallée) for winning silver.”


Final Elite Men 26”
1. Jack Carthy (GBR) 220, 2. Nicolas Vallée (FRA) 220, 3. Kenny Belaey (BEL) 220, 4. Gilles Coustellier (FRA) 200, 5. Vincent Hermance (FRA) 190, 6. Clement Meot (FRA) 170
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Kenny Belaey, bronze UCI Urban Cycling Trials World Championship

Kenny Belaey, bronze UCI Urban Cycling Trials World Championship

From left to right: Nicolas Vallée, Jack Carthy and Kenny Belaey - UCI Urban Cycling Trials World Championship

From left to right: Nicolas Vallée, Jack Carthy and Kenny Belaey - UCI Urban Cycling Trials World Championship

Kenny Belaey in the semi-final

Kenny Belaey in the semi-final

Kenny Belaey in the final

Kenny Belaey in the final

Kenny Belaey in the semi-final

Kenny Belaey in the semi-final

Kenny Belaey in the final

Kenny Belaey in the final

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