Meulebeke, Belgium hosts the Belgian cyclo-cross national championship this weekend, and one contender announced he is gay ahead of the competition.
Justin Laevens, one of the best U23 cyclists in the country, was doing an interview with SportNU.be when he came out. “I had been thinking about it for two years. It was a big step,” Laevens, 19, said in the interview about coming out.
He added, “my parents were very positive about it. I was especially afraid of the reactions of bigger riders or teams, that they would look at me differently, but I don't think that's the case.”
On his Instagram story, the athlete posted another message. “Being out in the sports world is difficult," he said. "I hope I can set an example for other athletes, for riders or for cyclo-crossers who may still be hidden in their shell."
Laevens would normally compete in the U23 race for younger cyclists, but due to the pandemic, those races have been postponed. Instead he’ll compete in this weekend’s championship race in the elite field where he’ll face much more experienced riders.
“Many people think it is an honor to race with the big guys, but it is very hard,” said Laevens. “ As U23s we start at the very back. Those guys have a very explosive start."
This season Laevens has competed in 13 races. His best finish this year was 21st place at Bryksy Cross Gościęcin in Poland.