In the cyclocross peloton my favourite rider is Lars van der Haar but you should know I really like Klaas Vantornout, who's - in my opinion - the sexiest.
There is an article HERE, not only interesting but very well written. Klaas Vantornout is described as "tall and lanky with close-cropped auburn hair, a sharp jaw, and deep-set, crystal blue eyes that are simultaneously penetrating and gentle [...] soft-spoken and [...] intensely thoughtful". Yes! ...and rudely fascinating.
In fact"...one of the most successful cyclocross racers in the world ", winner of two Belgian National Championships (2013, 2015) and two silver medals at the World Championships, 2nd in Tabor in 2010, 3rd in Louisville in 2013. In spite of this... not so popular, nor with the press nor with the crowd, who respect him but don't love him like other more extrovert characters.
Not his best season so far: first of all he did not receive a start contract for the Bpost Bank Trofee series, then he got sick and didn't start in the World Cup in Valkenburg, then he crashed in the Superprestige in Zonhoven. and the injury didn't allow him to start in the Koppenberg cross. In Francorchamps-Spa as well as in Namur he finished 4th.
Still he's wearing the Belgian Champion jersey and it isn't easy.
It's interesting and maybe surprising to know that "he and Mathieu Van der Poel shared some common interests outside the sport and had talked periodically during the early part of the season. Van der Poel [...] told reporters that Vantornout was one of the few riders from whom he had received real support during his absence from racing."
Introvert and not at ease with words, he risks to be misunderstood. See what he says:
“Not a lot of people know me. They know me only from here, from the races, but outside they don’t know me. I’m a normal guy, I’m playing with my little girl — she’s now five years, it’s very nice. She helps me forget about all the pressure and the ‘crosses.
It’s not my best period, you can see it in the results. In cyclocross, you know, you must be 100 percent in condition, and if it’s not 100 percent you feel it directly from the start. Especially with the young people now. It was necessary. I was ill; they were taking my blood, and it was very bad. I was a week a little bit ill. It was not very ill, but every day the press and the newspaper is ‘blah blah blah,’ and it’s making me not popular. But it’s always the same with the press and me. When I’m doing something, they are there.
When you are good, everything is good. The hardest moment in cyclocross with the jersey is when you are riding in 10th position. Then it’s very hard mentally. I’m 33 years old. I have a lot of experience with it. It’s a hard world, it’s a small world, but I’m 33 years, and I’m so long in the world of cyclocross. I know the world. If I win a big race, that’s for me the best days. I’m two times the Belgian champion. Last year I was winning in Gavere, a very nice race, and I was alone at the finish.
I started cycling when I was 13 years old. And from when I was 16 I was more and more riding in the cyclocross, but then it was not so popular like now. Now you have all the young teams, every big team has a young team for the nieuweling and the juniors, but I was doing it on my own. My parents paid for my bike, they brought me to the races. Now if you are 16, they give him two bikes and six pairs of wheels. It’s a little bit crazy. I’m proud of my career. … It was a very difficult way, but step by step I was growing. My rivals from the juniors or the [under-23s], they are all stopped now and I was always, every year, going step by step higher and higher. Maybe now the step is down and down. I can’t race so many more years on this level. Maybe I do my best the next two years. I have a contract until the end of 2016, then we see. I don’t know. [I’ll be] 35 and I won’t ride until I’m 40. I can’t do [what Sven Nys did] he’s a special man.
Yes, you must have results and you have a lot of pressure. Yeah, that’s part of the job. But every job has something negative. This is my hobby and I can live from it. My bike [has always been] my hobby, and now it’s my job the last eight years. I’m a happy man.”