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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, Thursday, November 11, 2010

Date published:
November 11, 2010, 0:00 GMT
  • Cyclo-cross cannibal Stybar still hungry for more

    The lone winner: Zdenek Štybar (Telenet-Fidea)
    Article published:
    October 31, 2010, 21:49 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Can the world champion win Koppenbergcross too?

    For the first time in many years, it's not a Belgian who is dominating the muddy fields of Flanders and northern Europe in the cyclo-cross circuit, rather it is the big Czech world champion Zdenek Stybar who has won eight of nine races started..

    The only race Stybar has not won was a memorial race for Radomir Simunek, won by his son Radomir Simunek Jr. Stybar has shown that he excels at almost every aspect of the sport and it doesn't seem likely he's going to finish far off the podium in any race this season.

    After his gutsy ride in the Zonhoven Superprestige, the world champion is expected to perform well during the Koppenbergcross on Monday. The course loops up and around the famous cobbled climb that is used in the Tour of Flanders.

    The mud, the climb and the cobbles tends to make the race one of the hardest of the season. Can Stybar recover in time to win it?

    “I hope to sleep well and recover in time,” Stybar said. “This week I already recovered well from the race on Tuesday in Tabor, despite adding in a big training ride on Friday. It's a classic race and one you always want to win.”

    Stybar cleverly passed the role of top favorite on to Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) who finished third in Zonhoven.

    “Sven is the cannibal and he won there nine times I think [actually seven -ed] I never won there so he's the one to beat,” Stybar said.

    Yet after his victory in Zonhoven, Stybar was in pain, after what he described as his hardest race of the season. “I had to work very hard. On another course you would get a thirty seconds bonus with the same effort but here you get only hundred metres. In the sand you lose a lot of metres when you're in the lead. The others can follow your line and jump back to you when climbing out of the sand pit,” Stybar said.

    The world champion had an incident on the last lap which could have been disastrous, but ended up not...

  • Sven Nys back to winning ways

    For the eighth time, Sven Nys is the king of the Koppenbergcross.
    Article published:
    November 01, 2010, 20:18 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian champion dominates Koppenbergcross

    It's been more than a month since Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) won a cyclo-cross race and that's created quite a stir in Flanders. The local media started writing off the Belgian champion, insinuating that at 34 years old it would no longer be possible for the legendary cyclo-cross rider to battle against the young wolves like world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus).

    On Monday afternoon, however, Nys answered the criticism with a demonstration of power at the Koppenbergcross. From the second lap on Nys was alone in the lead and he simply crushed the opposition to win the race for the eighth time in his career. The combination of two tough races in one weekend enabled a strong rider like Nys to come to the surface, especially when the second event was the toughest of both.

    "This was a race that I really wanted to win," said Nys. "Only a fully developed 'cross rider can win here and once again I've put it onto my list. I can enjoy this victory for more than a year, I'm completely sure about that.

    "I don't know what's going to happen during the upcoming weeks but I'll surely be living on a cloud during the next few days."

    While talking to the press after the race it was clear Nys was relieved that he pulled of his first big win of the season. He explained that he needed this one to keep the confidence high.

    "The pressure is off the boiler now after clinching my first classification race of the season," said Nys. "The pressure is enormously high. I never doubted myself but more and more the same questions came back: can you still do it, are you on the way back... I kept myself away from that and kept doing the same work I always do.

    "I lived up towards this race. It succeeded and without wasting many words to the matter I answered the critics with the pedals today. I'm still standing," Nys said before adding that he might have needed the pressure from the outer world.


  • Nys factor keeps crowds happy in Flanders

    Sven Nys added another cobbled trophy to his collection.
    Article published:
    November 03, 2010, 17:45 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    'Cross appeal evident by attendance and TV figures

    It's a well-known fact that cyclo-cross is popular in the Flemish region of Belgium, and action from the recent Superprestige Zonhoven and GVA Trofee - Koppenbergcross events last weekend demonstrated the vital ingredients that flavour the region's love of all things 'cross.

    The resurgence of Landbouwkrediet's local hero Sven Nys after young rival Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) laid down the challenge last season has a lot to do with the spike in spectator numbers seen at last weekend's races.

    Add the likes of Belgian stalwart Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea), the Vantornouts and Vanthourenhouts, in addition to several foreign riders such as Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Czech sensation Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea), and there are clearly the makings of a successful formula that will keep the crowds coming back for more.

    Both races were live on Flemish TV and broadcasts tend to attract between 600,000 and 900,000 viewers. People who enjoyed a certain race on TV will probably consider going to that race the following season. The Zonhoven event clearly demonstrated that fact, with huge crowds in attendance following solid TV performances in 2009.

    On Sunday afternoon, the relatively young event in Zonhoven attracted more than double the number of spectators of the previous year, with 12,400 making their way to the 2010 edition. The spectacular sand pit introduced in 2009 was the place to be; although whether it was the great viewing opportunities or the multiple crashes in that section that attracted people is anyone's guess.

    A VIP lounge offered special guests the best view on course, with almost 1,000 people receiving the 'luxury' treatment in Zonhoven. In the Superprestige Series, riders receive start fees to ride all events, with the bonuses for strong overall classification performances encouraging spectacular racing in every round of the series.

    A third factor for the huge crowds was the great weather, with forecasts...

  • Stybar in Mallorca for training and rest

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet - Fidea) finished in fourth place, more than two minutes down on Nys.
    Article published:
    November 05, 2010, 13:03 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Says Nys deservedly won in Koppenberg

    World cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar has dominated the season so far but after finishing only fourth on Monday in the Koppenbergcross, he has taken off to Mallorca for some intense training.

    The Koppenbergcross was the first major race that the Czech has not won this season. His other defeat on October 28, was to Radomir Simunek Jr., who won the Memorial Radomir Simunek race dedicated to his late father.

    Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) comfortably won the Koppenbergcross for the eighth time after spending a week training in Mallorca. It was the first win of the season for the 34-year-old, who beat his closest rivals by over a minute. Stybar finished 3:08 down in fourth place.

    Stybar described the race an “off day” because of three factors. “Because of a lot of obligations, I didn't have enough recovery time for the Koppenberg Cross,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws. He also crashed halfway through.

    “The third and probably the biggest factor: Above all, Sven Nys was really very impressive,” Stybar admitted.

    After the race he quickly headed to Mallorca, where he “will combine a lot of training with a lot of nothing. I will stay here until Wednesday, and then next week I hope to reap the rewards of my hard work here,” he said.

    His next race is November 11 in Niel, Czech Republic. The next GvA Trofee race is on November 20 in Hasselt, Belgium.

  • Nys plans to retire in 2014

    Arms aloft for winner Sven Nys as he earns his eighth career Koppenbergcross victory.
    Article published:
    November 09, 2010, 13:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Looks to extend with Landbouwkrediet until retirement

    Sven Nys has said that he plans to end his career in February 2014 and that he wants to stay with his current team Landbouwkrediet until then.

    Nys is reigning Belgian national cyclo-cross champion, a title which he has won multiple times. He was also world champion in 2005. Earlier this month he won the Koppenbergcross, part of the GVA Trofee series.

    The 34-year-old currently has a contract through the end of 2011, and is in negotiations for an extension. Landbouwkrediet CEO Luc Versele would like Nys to stay with his team until the end of his career.

    "I want to give our Belgian champion the farewell he deserves,” Versele told Het Laatste Nieuws. “I very much want to see him end his career at Landbouwkrediet.”

    Versele had assumed that Nys would retire at the end of the 2012-2013 season, but is willing to consider an additional year, saying that “2014 is certainly negotiable.”

    “The bond we have with Sven is very strong and special. We are very pleased with our cooperation over the past two years.”

    He warned Nys against making too high wage demands, however. “We are not a cash cow, which Sven's management must understand. The economic crisis is for everyone.”

  • Stybar extends UCI 'cross ranking lead

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet - Fidea) en route to victory in Zonhoven.
    Article published:
    November 09, 2010, 23:12 GMT
    Peter Hymas

    Van den Brand new women's leader

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) and Daphny van den Brand ( top the latest UCI cyclo-cross rankings, published today.

    While world champion Zdenek Stybar's seven-race winning streak that opened his season ended on October 28 with a fourth place finish at the Velka Cena Mesta Tabora on home soil, the 24-year-old Czech nonetheless bounced back to win his next race, Belgium's Superprestige Zonhoven, three days later. The points for those events, combined with a fourth place finish at Koppenbergcross, not only kept Stybar atop the elite men's rankings with 780 points but considerably extended his lead over the second-place rider.

    France's Francis Mourey (FDJ) moved up one position from the prior poll to second place, buoyed by a win at the Cyclo-cross International de Marle and a second place finish at the opening round of the Challenge de la France Cycliste in Saverne. The Frenchman trails Stybar by a massive 308 points, but heads a tight cluster of riders ranked second through seventh, separated by only 30 points.

    Belgium's Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea Cycling Team) moves up two places to third overall, trailing Mourey by a slender two points. Jeremy Powers (, the highest ranked American, dropped from second to fourth with 464 points while teammate and US champion Tim Johnson rounds out the top five with 460 points.

    Two high-powered Belgians in Sven Nys ( Landbouwkrediet) and Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) occupy sixth and seventh, trailing Johnson by 10 and 18 points respectively.

    The newest UCI 'cross ranking is the third of the season and while Zdenek Stybar has led every time for the elite men, the elite women's rankings have been headed by a different rider each time. Katie Compton (Planet Bike) topped the first ranking, followed by compatriot Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), and now Dutch champion Daphny van den Brand ( leads with 575...

  • Stybar to miss Niel Jaarmarktcross

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet - Fidea) finished in fourth place, more than two minutes down on Nys.
    Article published:
    November 10, 2010, 18:00 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Czech injured during Mallorca training camp

    Cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) will not take the start in the 'Jaarmarktcross' in Niel, Belgium on Thursday. The Czech is struggling with a locked lower back that is affecting his left knee. After falling relatively short in the Koppenbergcross, Stybar headed to Mallorca, Spain for a training camp with a bunch of European-based non-Belgian riders and his teammate Kevin Pauwels.

    “It's too bad because it made good sense to come here to Mallorca to train. I've worked hard on my form and I was also able to rest as I wanted to. While doing some running exercises on the beach in Palma today I suddenly felt pain in my lower back," Stybar said. "It affects me most when I run or walk. I'm not taking any risks and I'm withdrawing from the 'Jaarmarktcross' in Niel tomorrow. On Wednesday I'll be seeing my physiotherapist. Treatment from him should get me back in action for the weekend."

    It is clear the current leader in the Superprestige Series wants to avoid the risk of an off-day during the third round of the Super Prestige in Hamme-Zogge next Sunday, in order to hold on to his lead.

    “I really want to be back in the mix over there, but Niel simply isn't possible,” the world champion said from his training camp in Mallorca.

  • Pit incident doesn't keep Nys from winning in mud

    Jaarmarktcross champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) on the top step of the podium.
    Article published:
    November 11, 2010, 17:51 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian takes third Jaarmarktcross

    For the third time in his career Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) has won the Jaarmarktcross in Niel. Despite not being featured in a classification competition like the Superprestige Series or the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, the race is still considered a cyclo-cross classic.

    Belgian champion Nys was comfortably leading the mudfest near the Rupel River when he encountered a problem that nobody could possibly have envisaged. When Nys entered the pit during the sixth lap, he suddenly started looking around.

    “Somehow I felt something was about to happen when I rode towards the pit. Once in there I found out none of my mechanics were there,” Nys said. “I shouted out loud to them and kept standing still even though I could have done a stop-and-go, but I really wanted a different bike.

    “Before that I had been juggling with tyre pressure and the bike I rode with had way too much air in it. Tyre pressure is crucial in a race like this and that’s why I wanted to change my bike, no matter what it took.”

    Nys' mechanic Gerrit Cortmans gave his view on things right after the incident. “We just weren't ready yet,” Cortmans admitted. “Because he usually changes bikes in the other pit, we were caught by surprise. It's a sad incident, but we were only allowed to have two guys in the pit.”

    Afterwards Nys didn't want to blame his mechanics. “Of course it would've been sad to lose out on the win because of it. On the other hand, those guys have worked extremely hard for fifteen years and one mistake doesn't take that away,” Nys explained. “I'm sure it was hectic in the pit and I'm convinced it will never happen again. Now I can laugh with it but when it happened I was pissed.”

    The Belgian champion was then saved by another rider's mechanic who noticed the problem and handed Nys his bike. “I think it was one of Sven Vanthourenhout’s...