Stybar might get in the mix to get his PlayStation back
After the penultimate round of the cyclo-cross GvA Trophy the decision about the overall win is far from decided as three riders are theoretically still in the run for glory. Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) trails Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) by only two points, while Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) will play a role of importance too as he is twelve points behind Nys.
At the last round in Oostmalle, the winner can take 25 points while a second is good for 22 points, then 19, 17, 16 etc. At the intermediate sprint after two laps there are respectively three, two and one point at stake. Pauwels was winner of the penultimate round in Lille on Saturday afternoon which was a blow for leader Nys, who finished third in the spectacular sprint.
“I can still win it but I'll have to do everything I can,” Pauwels said. Last year Pauwels helped team-mate Zdenek Stybar to the overall win in the World Cup and then he received a PlayStation from the Czech. “Maybe he can do something back for me this year. I'm not going to ask him for help. I expect that he knows what to do,” Pauwels said.
World champion Stybar didn't need time to think about helping his teammate, even though they will be in different teams next season. “Of course I'll help if I can. Two points is nothing. We'll talk about it. It would be great for Kevin. Maybe he can give me a PlayStation too,” Stybar said.
“The overall ranking is not important for me. I can still finish second but winning is not really possible. Because of that I can start the last round with no pressure. I don't have to calculate and can simply focus on winning the race,” Stybar said.
According to Nys, there would be no role for Stybar in the final round of the GvA Trophy. “It will come down to a man-to-man battle. I think I have a very good chance to come out of the battle as winner but we'll see.
“I have good memories of Oostmalle because I have always ridden relaxed over there because the overall win was already mine, or because I no longer had a chance on the win. This year will be different but I'm taking on the challenge on a tactical course. It will be exciting,” Nys said.
During the tactical race in Lille, Pauwels showed a lot of initiative but he felt that he wasn't the strongest man in the race. “Sven was probably slightly better but luckily it came down to a sprint,” Pauwels said.
One would expect that Pauwels would be confident for the sprint as he already showed his sprinting abilities more than once this season with a win against Niels Albert in the World Cup at Pont-Château but also a bunch sprint victory in the Fleche du Sud.
Somehow the timid Belgian didn't believe in his chances before starting the sprint. “I actually feared that I would finish off the podium once again,” Pauwels said.
Clearly Nys is the more confident rider of the two but Pauwels showed in Lille that he doesn't need a lot of confidence to come out of the battle as the winner.
Belgian again teaches his young rivals a lesson on success
If there were ever doubts about Sven Nys’ ability after the Belgian turning 34, they have been blown away by yet another super season in the mud.
The Belgian once again tops the UCI-rankings, leads the list of the number of victories, with 13, and on Sunday afternoon he won in Hoogstraten, crossing the line with ten fingers in the air. The victory secured Nys his tenth overall victory in the important Superprestige Series. How significant is that number? Well, second on the all-time Superprestige winners list is Hennie Stamsnijder, with 'only’ four wins.
“I don’t often say that what I do is special but this time I can say that this record won't be equalled some time in the near future,” Nys said.
“I think Stybar and Albert are the riders who could be my successors but they'll have to win the series every year for ten years in a row if they want this record. By the way, I'm not going to rest on my laurels. My next goal is winning number eleven. I want to remain as competitive as I can until the end of my career in 2014.”
The list of total race victories in the Superprestige is unsurprisingly also led by Nys with 54 wins currently on his palmares. Next on the list is the legendary Roland Liboton.
Nys explained why he rates the Superprestige Series as high as he does.
“Simply because it is the cyclo-cross series with the longest history. It's the only competition in which you can compare with the big names from the past. I'll never be like Liboton at the world championships [a five times world champion], although I already finished seven times on the podium [including one win]. Only big names have won this competition, like Liboton, Stamsnijder, Daniele Pontoni and Richard Groenendaal. In the series you can show you consistency,” Nys said.
The Cannibal of cyclo-cross
If Nys is one thing, he is consistent. The ‘cannibal’ of cyclo-cross finished off the podium fewer than five times this season.
While former rivals like Bart Wellens(Telenet-Fidea) are less competitive than before, there are enough young riders pushing to knock Nys off his throne. These include Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea), Kevin Pauwels(Telenet-Fidea) and Lars Boom (Rabobank). All of these men are almost a decade younger than Nys.
“It's getting harder every year as the young generation is getting stronger. Due to my age I don’t often get days when I'm unbeatable but today I was in total control,” he said. “Every time I looked back I saw mouths falling open. Due to the high level in the sport it's very unusual if a rider can gain a minute on his rivals. I'm proud that I pulled it off a couple of times this season,” Nys said.
With only a few races left this season one could expect Nys would take time to celebrate his victory but he wasn't planning on doing so just yet.
“Every rider wants to win one of the big series. The Superprestige is already mine and there's one more within my reach,” Nys said, referring to the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy in which he leads by only two points over Pauwels. A party? No way, we're going to take a look at this race with the inner circle and maybe we'll drink a glass but the GvA is the goal. I want to empty the glass right down to the last drop. I'm not taking a break before Oostmalle [February 20] and Hasselt [February 23],” Nys promised.
American will help run cyclo-cross training centre in Madison
American cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page has secured funding from former sponsor and owner of Planet Bike, Bob Downs, who is working on the details of a new sponsorship agreement for the 2011-12 season. Downs hopes to continue financially supporting Page, without the aid of Planet Bike, by running a summer cyclo-cross training centre.
"He is committed to being the sponsor for next season," said Page. "Right now I'm still riding under Planet Bike and later on we will figure out what the name of my team will be. Our vision is to commit to running some cyclo-cross camps. Cyclo-cross is his passion."
"Bob owns land outside Madison and is thinking of buying a little more to make a cyclo-cross training centre in order to run those camps out of the Madison area," he added. "I would be running the program, doing technique work and talking about training. We will bring in some trainers, sport scientists and mechanics to help run the cyclo-cross camp."
Page is no stranger to leading cyclo-cross training sessions, having provided a clinic prior to the Planet Bike Cup event in Madison two years ago. He also ran a cyclo-cross clinic prior to Star Crossed and Rad Racing events in Oregon last September.
"It was fun for me and a big turn out," Page said. "I never imagined myself being much of a teacher but I can do a pretty good job of teaching cyclo-cross, so that's nice to know."
In November, Page announced that Downs would sell Planet Bike and effectively end all sponsorship for the cyclo-cross team, including himself and US National Champion Katie Compton. However, Downs approached Page with a new offer following his 12th place at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships held on January 30 in St-Wendel, Germany.
"It's not just a sponsorship, it's like being involved with a family," Page said. "Bob is a very good friend to me and my family."
Page will continue his equipment sponsorship agreements with Blue Bicycles, Enve wheels and Lazer helmets. He will continue his search for additional sponsorship to add to his new financial arrangement with Downs. "I am free to find other sponsors as well and it helps to be riding fairly well right now to hopefully attract some more," Page said.
Page and his wife Cori welcomed their third child into the family, daughter Pearl Wendel Page, the day after the world championships in local St-Wendel hospital. In honor of his daughter, Page will wear a pink accented helmet and handlebar tape for the remainder of the season.
"I'm going to celebrate my new daughter Pearl," Page said. "I was day dreaming on a training ride a couple of weeks ago and thought that would be a cute way of celebrating her arrival."
The Landbouwkrediet cyclo-cross team of Sven Nys will be expanded to include Sven Vanthourenhout as well as incorporate the amateur KDL-Trans squad for juniors and under-23 riders, the team announced today.
Nys extended his contract through 2014, and will act as a mentor for the young riders, imparting his wealth of knowledge of cyclo-cross to the sport's up and coming talents.
Vincent Baestaens, the former Belgian u23 champion and winner of two World Cups this season, is expected to transition to the elite Landbouwkrediet team from KDL-Trans for the 2011-2012 season, while Vanthourenhout and one more elite rider will fill out the team.
The KDL-Trans team will include the UCI's number one junior rider, Laurens Sweeck, along with his two brothers Diether and Hendrick.
Luc Versele, Landbouwkrediet CEO, said that the team extended its contract with Nys in December, but that it was only a small part of the larger cyclo-cross project which Nys will help develop.
"Sven will share his invaluable experience and knowledge with the espoirs and juniors, and will seek to develop young talents. Toward this, we have an ideal partner in the KDL Trans team, which in recent years has had an outstanding juniors programme, and in Jan Verstraeten a driven and ambitious team manager."
For Nys, having a team will be a novel concept, as he has been mostly a lone wolf since leaving Rabobank in 2008. "This is indeed a new challenge," said Nys. "Until now I have had no real team around me.
"I'm glad I can contribute to the development of young riders on this group, but I must warn them: I have always set the bar for myself very high."
The team will have its formal presentation in May.
Helen Wyman is Britain’s most successful cyclo-cross rider, and in 2010 won the prestigious GVA Trofee Koppenbergcross race.
In this video, shot at the final round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup at Hoogerheide on January 23, 2011, the British National Champion describes her hopes for the race on the muddy course.
The video shows highlights of the race, and afterward, despite feeling the effects of illness, she finished eighth, and she reflects on her performance and looks ahead to her hopes for a top 10 finish in the 2011 Cyclo-cross World Championships. She describes her winter, including just missing out on that goal, in an exclusive blog for Cyclingnews.
For Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) the soon-to-be-completed 2010-2011 cyclo-cross season has been an exercise in frustration. The 28-year-old Belgian has carried the load for the troubled Sunweb-Revor team's season while co-leader Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) was unable to live up to the high expectations from team manger Jurgen Mettepenningen.
On Saturday afternoon, with only a couple of races left this season, Vantornout soloed to a well-deserved victory, his first of the season, in the Superprestige finale at Middelkerke, Belgium..
An emotional Vantornout was overjoyed with his victory. "Actually this comes as a surprise to me," said Vantornout. "I was very motivated for this 'cross race on home soil and I made it happen.
"It hasn't been a smooth season, to say the least. There have been ups and downs...too many downs. The few times I came close to a victory there was always somebody else just a little bit stronger.
"Today I was better than the rest. This makes up for a lot...for everything: a victory in a big 'cross race in front of my home crowd."
Next season Kevin Pauwels, currently with Telenet-Fidea, will join Sunweb-Revor and take some of the pressure away for Vantornout. "Having Kevin in the team is a positive step," Vantornout told VT4. "If I'm not going well all the pressure used to come on my shoulders and with him [here] that should become easier."
Team manager Mettepenningen was a happy man as he watched Vantornout race to victory. He cheered on his rider on the finishing straight when he passed by during the closing laps and after the finish he was the first to give him a high-five.
"Finally. It's a well-deserved win for Klaas," Mettepenningen said.
Before the season Mettepenningen stated that the team should be able to pull off 50 podium results this season. That prognostication didn't happen and Mettepenningen realised that with the arrival of Pauwels the team would have a better chance of consistent podium finishes next season.
"I'm very pleased that Kevin Pauwels is joining our team," Mettepenningen told VT4. "Vantornout had to carry the weight of the team since Sven didn't do it this season. With Kevin on our team we should be battling for the podium in most races."
Team Astana has held its first training rides up Mount Etna in Sicily in preparation for the Giro d'Italia. The Kazakh team has also made its first Giro pre-selection, confirming Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic as the captain.
Last week team manager Giuseppe Martinelli took ten riders to Etna, where they trained for six hours. "This is a very difficult stage, and if we have warm weather in the next Giro, it will be a massacre!"
“I think this stage will be very strategic and there are some who may lose valuable minutes in the general classification, so there will be plenty at stake "
Martinelli also took the opportunity to asses the riders. “They worked very well, they are in good conditions, but the Giro is still far from now."
Kreuziger, who turns 25 the day before the Giro starts, will lead the team in Italy. Martinelli also said that he will count on Paolo Tiralongo, Francesco Masciarelli, Evgeni Petrov, and Fredrik Kessiakoff “who will be our strength in the next Giro.”
It's been a very long time since cyclo-cross had a direct duel between two riders until the last round of one of the major series. In Oostmalle, Belgian veteran Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and young wolf Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) faced each other in the last round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy. Going into the eighth and last round Pauwels trailed Nys by only two points, while 28 points were at stake in Oostmalle. One hour later Nys jumped into the arms of his soigneur.
"This is a revenge for what happened in Pijnacker back in 2004. My defeat there gave me so much adrenaline today," Nys said. During the final sprint of that World Cup race Nys was suddenly passed by almost all of his so-called Belgian team-mates, making him lose out on the overall win in the World Cup. "This was the same situation and this time even in the lion's den. It was me against the rest. Nobody could ride away except if it was tactical. I couldn't allow Pauwels and another Fidea-rider ahead of me," Nys talked tactics before explaining he wanted to come out winning more than anything else. "This wasn't about the price money at stake but about the honour of winning. I've won two series this year so I'm supper happy," Nys said.
A few metres further back Pauwels was left fuming about the tactics used by the 'cannibal' from Baal. "I tried everything I could but the way Sven rode... I'm pissed. He rode flat out on the straight sections and then as slow as he could in the corners. It was very annoying to ride like that. I couldn't do anything. If I were him I would not have ridden like that," Pauwels said.
Nys didn't understand the annoyance from his timid compatriot and explained that he simply used the weapons he had against the Telenet-Fidea army. "I didn't make any mistakes and led the group when I had to lead it; in the sand nobody could overtake me anyway. I think it was a fair fight. Guys like Stybar and Wellens clearly rode for Kevin while they rode in a position to grab second place. In the last lap I had to set my elbow to get passed Stybar. Kevin punctured in the last lap but even without that mechanical I was in an ideal position to come out winning," Nys said. That's a debatable statement as both Nys and Pauwels featured in the group that sprinted for second place. If Pauwels won that sprint and Nys didn't finish right behind him, Pauwels would've won the overall classification. But then Nys put the finger on the sore spot. "I wanted to make Kevin nervous. I can handle this kind of pressure and knew what I was doing," Nys said.
While Pauwels was angry right after the race he started admitting his mistakes as the interview evolved. "Early on I felt the stress. The goal for the intermediate sprint was to take as many points as possible," Pauwels said. A problem with his rear brake put him out of contention for that sprint as he needed to hop off his bike to get it fixed. "My heart failed me in the second lap when things started going wrong. When starting the lap I was boxed in and ended up riding at the back of the group and then I made a mistake and hit my rear brake. I had to fix it right away as it was too late to get points anyway and I needed the brakes in the forest," Pauwels said.
Although he was able to bounce back into the main group, Pauwels never got back into his rhythm. "I'm angry about the way he [Nys] rode. I don't feel like I've just raced. I never dug deep or raced flat out," Pauwels said.
A few moments later Pauwels stated an unbelievable feat. "I didn't know it was the last lap. I lost track of the lap count and didn't know we were heading for the final sprint. Suddenly everybody was standing there. If I would've known that I surely would've sprinted for a better result," Pauwels said. He finished ninth in Oostmalle while a sixth place was surely possible. The poor result made him tumble from second to third place overall.
The difference in price money between first and third place is huge: €14500. Added to that was a bonus of €10000 from his own team while we're not even talking about start money for the next season. "I don't care about the money. It was about winning the series," Pauwels said. Clearly the pressure had taken down the 26 year-old Belgian. "This felt like a championships race. Maybe Sven was just better than me," Pauwels said. Just like Sven Nys remembered his disastrous outcome of the World Cup back in 2004 Pauwels will remember this day for a very long time. A major difference was the team support which Nys lacked in Pijnacker. "The team did all they could but maybe they should not have done that and ridden their own race," Pauwels said.