Would Yves Lampaert be welcomed by a guard of honor of thirty farmer’s sons from Belgium, with tractors and all? Which expensive words had Michel Wuyts purchased to celebrate the 2022 cycling year? And what color would the prom dress in which Oumaima Rayane would stride down the red carpet? Everything was wide open at the presentation of the Crystal Bicycle, except – and this is not unimportant for an award ceremony – who would win at the end of the evening.
Bad luck for VTM: just in the year that the station decided to broadcast the gala of the Kristallen Fiets for the first time, a funny ket from Schepdaal and a classic queen from Rumst made it the least exciting edition in years. Lotte Kopeckywinner of the Tour of Flanders and winner of the trophy for the third time in a row, had already opted for the early breakaway to the Track Cycling World Championship and received the jewel in Paris from the hands of Stijn Vlaeminck, who, as everyone else on these matters, generously quoted from the cahier entitled ‘1,001 easy questions for sports journalists’. “Do you realize how impressive this is?” Do you realize, Stijn, how this kind of flattery disguised as a question doesn’t exactly make it more impressive?
I could have understood that obligatory number if Freek Braeckman and Lies Vandenberghe until then hadn’t tried so hard to keep up the tension that Braeckman almost burst out of his suit with the artificial excitement. Because it was just a stop! And everything could change! Did I mention it was exciting?! The only thing that could have been done was that Johan Museeuw with a snowblower came roaring in order to let Rempo Evekoel sink through the ice.
When the world champion came to collect his over-earned Crystal Bicycle, anyone who read a sports newspaper in the past month could dream of what would happen. A happy Remco and a smug Patrick Lefevere – rightly so in both cases – had borrowed each other’s straight faces not to tell in unison whether they will ride the Tour next year.
Every now and then you got a glimpse of what the Crystal Bicycle could have been, a celebration of a great racing year in all its facets. The rightful tribute to Paralympic hour record holder Ewoud Vromant and the disarmed interview with juniore’s brother Febe Jooris were stories of the romantic kind on which the course lives, although the item about Vromant remained somewhat vague. Tiesj Benoot who fought back tears at his front door because he didn’t think it was him, but his teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck the Crystal Sweat Drop for best helper deserved: clean. But otherwise, the victorious Evenepoel, as so often this season, left miles of emptiness behind. Isn’t this the big show station that barks ‘The Voice’ for three hours every week? Where was that rainbow colored show ballet for team leader of the year Sven Vanthourenhout? Where was the Lotte confetti for Lotte Kopecky? Where was the fanfare that came to interpret ‘In de silent Kempen’ for Wout van Aert?
What’s more, the second best Belgian rider of the year was absent from the Kristallen Fiets. The Savior of Herentals condescended to a video in which he explained from a Kempen field that he was spending his scarce holiday Sarah and Georges wanted to spend, “and unfortunately not on cycling galas”. So the evening was so boring, and exclusive images of it could be made Patrick Evenepoel who danced the polonaise to his son’s fidelity and Koen Wauters who, panting on an exercise bike, sang the praises of Remco nothing to change.
Oh yes, Yves was nowhere to be found, Michel talked about a grand cru classé and Oumi wore dark green.