“This circuit deserves a European Championship”

They describe themselves as “siamese twins”. Their grandfathers and fathers already were members of Huijbergens Cycling Committee, Jan Maas and Ruud Broosus joined it themselves in 1996. Together they nurtured what has become known as “the most beautiful circuit in the world”. And that circuit, Broosus and Maas think, “deserved a European Championship.”

“Circuit manager” is an impressive title to boast, especially if you’re able to add that you thought out the circuit on which the European Cyclocross Championship is taking place. Ruud Broosus (47) and Jan Maas (53) don’t need that glamour though. They much rather be on top of the Tiestenduin, watching over an area of land that they hope will be “filled with thousands of people”. As the European Championship approaches, Broosus and Maas are not afraid to make their hands dirty. They don’t hesitate to trim the woods, or cut down a tree, everything to make “their” circuit as good as it can be come championship day. “On race day we’re usually the last ones to arrive in the VIP-area”, they laugh, “usually with dirty hands, and many times late enough to have all the food gone cold. We don’t really like the attention.”

When the Huijbergen Cycling Committee decided to set up its own Cyclocross event, Jan and Ruud took on the task to create a circuit in and around their town. “We go cycling in the woods here a lot, so we had a fair idea of where the best bits were. That the “Nootjesberg” and “Tiestenduin” just had to be included seemd logical. That’s not rocket science”, they say in a down-to-earth way. Jan and Ruud insist to emphasize that they couldn’t have made this beautiful circuit without the help of the various land owners. “That those people are willing to contribute to the success of our cross is amazing”, Jan says. Together with Ruud he visits the woods on a regular basis during the year, to see how “his” track is doing, and to act if that’s needed. “You don’t want to know how many bushes and trees we two have cut in those woods”, the circuit managers smile, “especially fort he European Championships we needed to get our hands dirty. We had to fell about three big trees, and do a lot of trimming. The funny thing is that the owners of the bit of land we were working on were always standing next to us, helping us get everything in perfect order!”

The received an extra bit of help in reaching that perfection. On behalf of sports marketing company Golazo, three-time Cyclocross World Champion Erwin Vervecken joined the two track managers. They greatly appreciated his advice. “Erwin thought it would be okay to make the contestants climb the Tiestenduin twice, instead of just once every lap. We always thought that would be way too tough, but who are we to ignore the opinion of a triple World Champion? Erwin won here in 2001, he knows this circuit! He also came up with the chickenrun, where contestants have a choice between a quicker, but more risky descent, and a longer but less tricky version. Erwin is a quiet, friendly guy, and he knows everything there is to know about Cyclocross. It’s great that helped us to perfect this amazing circuit.

About their own activities, Jan and Ruud remain modest, but when it comes to their track they are nothing but proud. “Yes, of course it’s good to know that so many experts and cracks call our circuit “the most beautiful in the world”. And it does have everything. For the European Championships we had to make some room to fit in the extra crowds, but apart from some details our circuit has remained unchanged for many years”, they say, “and this circuit simply deserves to host the European Championship. It deserves to be braved by the best riders, and it deserves to be broadcast live on television. We’re happy that it’s finally going to happen, we just hope thousands of people will come and watch it live. That would be a great feeling!”

Ruud Broosus informed the Huijbergen Cycling Committee that he’ll resign after the European Championship. Jan Maas will have to manage without his siamese twin brother from now on. Will he struggle?  Ruud answers the question for him: “It simply takes too much of my time, that’s why I’m resigning. But I’m not abandoning them you know, I’ll be around to help out if they need me.” It makes Jan laugh: “When all is said and done, this is our track. That can’t be helped.”


The interview with the track managers for the 2015 European Cyclocross Championship was published in the EC-special edition of De Zuidwestkrant in 2015. 

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