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First Edition Cycling News, Saturday, November 24, 2012

Date published:
November 24, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • Nys explains his cyclo-cross domination

    Sven Nys runs with his bike
    Article published:
    November 18, 2012, 20:50 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Belgian legend doubts whether Stybar or Boom would be competitive nowadays

    Cyclo-cross star Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) is riding a two-year long final farewell tour, but it turns out he isn't experiencing it as an easy stroll to retirement. The 36-year-old Belgian champion has racked up no less than nine wins so far this season, the largest part of them in the most important races. He has four out of four wins in the Superprestige series and two out of three wins in the Bpost Bank Trophy series. His latest two came back-to-back in a single weekend.

    "Too bad I ran into bad luck in the World Cup," Nys said after his win in Asper-Gavere at the Superprestige round on Sunday. During both Czech World Cup rounds, Nys suddenly went backward: in Tábor due to a mechanical and in Plzen due to a crash.

    "The classifications are no obsession though. I just try to win as many nice wins as possible," said Nys. "The intermediate sprint for bonus seconds in the Bpost Bank Trophy? If it doesn't cost me too much energy, I do it. But like in Ronse, I didn't push on because it was too early in the season to go to the bottom. [The classifications] is not on my mind during a race."

    His rivals are left to fight over the scraps. World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) won six races, of which two are in the series. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) won one race: the World Cup in Tábor.

    Nys has an explanation for his dominance. "I don't think I've ever been this good. I've certainly got more punch in my legs than other years. I can make a jump. I've also got the insights and experience of... a 36-year-old. Like yesterday [Saturday, in Hasselt]. It was a dream to ride like that. Closing the gap with the leaders whenever I wanted to. Today [Asper-Gavere, on Sunday] I was aware the Klaas Vantornout was able to ride a very fast last lap. I watch the races on TV and though he's not always riding near the front, he's always...

  • Page gains confidence in Gavere at Superprestige round

    Jonathan Page races on his home turf in Oudenaarde.
    Article published:
    November 18, 2012, 22:04 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Former Worlds runner-up chases Louisville starting spot

    The results from cyclo-cross rider Jonathan Page in his current European campaign have not left a big impression so far. Apart from a ninth place in a race in Dottignies that was not part of any series, the 36-year-old American never cracked the top-15. In the two World Cup rounds in the Czech Republic, the American was 29th and 32nd respectively. However, the former runner-up at the cyclo-cross world championships of Hooglede-Gits in 2007 improved on recent performances at the Superprestige round in Asper-Gavere on Sunday.

    Always choosing his own program in the past, Page tended to skip the races at home in the USA to compete with the best in Europe. He even bought a house in Oudenaarde, at the heart of the Belgian cycling world. For a few years it worked out, but last year the results didn't come, and eventually the long-expected ending of his contract with Planetbike meant he was without a main sponsor for the 2012-2013 cyclo-cross season.

    Few things kept the Page family in Belgium, and last summer they bought a house in the US. Still, Page opted to ride a European campaign as it was the cheapest choice. The races in the US often oblige riders to use flights whereas those in Europe are mostly within a two-hour drive from each other.

    With no significant results this year and often confronted with other physical setbacks, Page's morale sunk.

    "It's been hard to keep the confidence. Let's face it. I've had a few sleepless nights," said Page. "It was time to put up or shut up. This morning I told myself: 'F*** it, let's see where I end up.' I was sick of feeling like shit."

    "Before the race, I discussed tactics with Franky [Van Haesebroucke, coach and mechanic]. I should pick my rhythm as I'm OK," Page said.

    Van Haesebroucke noted that his rider...

  • Surprising podium in Gavere for Wellens

    Bart Wellens and Lars Van Der Haar
    Article published:
    November 19, 2012, 5:40 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Muddy and technical course ideal for first podium in Superprestige series

    A surprising name on the Hansgrohe Superprestige podium in Gavere was Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea). The former top gun of the cyclo-cross scene doesn't fire that often nowadays, especially after his life-threatening health problems from last year. Finding a muddy technical course that suited him well the 34 year-old Belgian rider rode the best race of his season so far, capturing his first podium result in a race that's part of the major series.

    "Finishing on the podium is a surprise to me too. It's beyond all expectations. Especially in a classic race like this one. If you see how old this race is. There have always been nice duels here. In the past I've been good over here but also bad. During the race I could hear the crowd go mad, realizing there was something going on in front. Before the race I regretted having good legs on Saturday on a course that doesn't suit me well. But once the race got underway I felt things were good again. After going this deep I shouldn't try to race tomorrow," Wellens said.

    During the first two laps Wellens rode prominently near the front, showing off his running skills on the slippery uphill sections.

    "My mechanics and dad were shouting that I had to keep calm but I was comfortable," Wellens said.

    Wellens didn't react on Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) his acceleration in the third lap, explaining it was part of his tactical plan.

    "I waited until Sven [Nys] attacked. I was ideally positioned but didn't get past Bart Aernouts [who was overtaken by Nys, Kevin Pauwels and Wellens] and lost a lot of metres. From there I decided to ride at my own pace. I felt that I was able to bridge up with Pauwels but not too fast. Once I caught up with him I decided to try to shake him off in the...

  • Nys in doubt for repeat win at Koksijde World Cup

    Sven Nys in the lead
    Article published:
    November 21, 2012, 6:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Illness and fatigue strike down last year's winner

    Plenty of rest, Vitamin C and a course of antibiotics is what Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-KDL) needs in order to get ready for the next UCI World Cup in Koksijde, says the Belgian champion. This weekend is also set for the next round of the Superprestige series in Gieten. Nys won both Koksijde and Gieten in 2011.

    Nys believes he is feeling the effects from last weekend's BPost Bank Trofee - GP Hasselt and the following day's Superprestige Gavere. It was a victorious weekend in both races before he started to feel unwell on Monday, citing chest pain and a cough. The 36-year-old has decided to take a course of antibiotics to ensure he is healthy for this weekend.

    "Taking antibiotics once every two or three years works effectively," Nys said on Nieuwsblad. "I know my body very well and feel it [illness] coming on usually two or three days before. Then you can take precautions. Antibiotics are one of them but drinking hot tea, taking extra vitamin C, remaining inside and rest is important."

    Nys said the additional stress of travelling to the UCI's headquarters in Switzerland where he was the representative for cyclo-cross in the Athletes' Commission meetings was another reason for his current state.

    "It's just the fatigue of last week that has manifested. After Hamme-Zogge I immediately got on a plane to Switzerland for three days for meetings. I absolutely felt fine. After Hasselt I felt I had gone too far. Monday I started to cough and even pain in my airways," said Nys.

    "Fortunately I know my body very well. Though there is nothing to do when I am really seriously sick. But I am confident that I will be back next weekend."

  • Sagan and Stybar back in action at Boonen’s cyclo-cross race

    Stybar showing off his trademark hangtime
    Article published:
    November 22, 2012, 4:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    Boom, Dekker, Terpstra, Meersman and more ready to race

    Tour de France green jersey winner Peter Sagan and former UCI cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar will line up on December 1 for the fourth annual "Boonen and Friends Charity Cyclocross". The race organised by Tom Boonen raises money for "Move to Improve" which provides support to children with neuromotor disorders.

    The 1,750m long course held at the Zilvermeer in Mol, Belgium will play host to a field of more than 40 professionals as they challenge for the title won by former world cyclo-cross champion Lars Boom in 2011 - who started one-minute behind the field. There will be additional categories including races for retired professionals and for juniors held before the main event.

    "Last year, our day raised 80,000 euros," said co-organiser Wilfried Peeters. "This year there will be an auction after the ‘cross race. Included in the auction will be a bicycle from Tom Boonen, his Belgium national champion jersey, Philippe Gilbert’s world champion jersey and the green jersey of Peter Sagan - all going under the hammer.

    "The highlight of the auction is a table that Vive le Velo Karl Vannieuwkerke made with students of TI St. Paul," said Peeters.

    The event gives ex-professionals including last year's winner and former road world champion Erwin Vervecken, three-time Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Johan Museeeuw and former Tour de France stage winner Ludwig Wijnantsin a chance to race against others of their era. The current professionals however, will go up against the likes of Stybar - who is a two time UCI cyclo-cross World Cup and World Championship winner.

    "It's a solid track, and the riders will be entertained. I myself...

  • Boom makes brief return to 'cross in December

    Lars Boom is running out of fingers to count the number of national titles he's won
    Article published:
    November 22, 2012, 21:04 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former world champ commits to Belgium's GP De Ster

    While Lars Boom (Rabobank) remains firmly committed to his road racing career at the WorldTour level, the 26-year-old Dutchman can't totally walk away from his cyclo-cross roots. Boom has confirmed his entry in the GP De Ster, a UCI C2-ranked race taking place December 19 in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. And as he did in 2011, Boom is expected to make his first 'cross appearance at Tom Boonen's charity 'cross event, Boonen & Friends, on December 1.

    Boom had contested a light, six-race 'cross schedule the previous season, beginning with the Namur, Belgium World Cup round on December 18 and concluding with the Dutch national championships on January 8, 2012, where he won his sixth straight elite title.

    While Boom intends to again compete through the 2013 Dutch 'cross championships in January, he has not announced what races he plans on entering in the interim following the GP De Ster

    Prior to his decision to focus on the road, Boom has a remarkable cyclo-cross career, with an undefeated streak at Dutch national championships extending back to 2001 in the junior ranks and continuing through the U23 and elite categories. He's also won cyclo-cross world championships as a junior (2003), U23 (2007) and elite rider (2008). His last participation in 'cross Worlds was in 2009.

    Boom has spent his entire career in Rabobank kit, first as a part of the Continental development team and then as part of the ProTeam since 2009.

  • Internationalization of cyclo-cross slow but continuing

    Sven Nys runs with his bike
    Article published:
    November 24, 2012, 9:59 GMT
    Cycling News

    UCI coordinator says new non-Belgian stars needed

    Cyclo-cross has long been dominated by the Belgians, but it is now becoming more international.  Next year's Worlds in the USA are in important step, the UCI's 'cross co-ordinator has explained, with the sport appearing now all over the world.

    “For eight years I've been committed to spreading cyclo-cross around the world,” UCI cyclo-cross coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele told the Gazet van Antwerpen. "There is now 'cross everywhere, even in Lebanon and South Africa."

    "The task now is to wait for big stars in those countries and financial resources. The one depends on the other,” he continued. “Talent is discovered by the media, and where the media goes, sponsors will come along."

    Another important step is the fact that the next world championships will take place in the US. "I see this as a huge success. A highlight in my career as UCI coordinator," Van Den Abeele said.

    Many of the big international names like Lars Boom (Netherlands), Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic, and Enrico Franzoi (Italy) have left 'cross to ride on the road, which he said he finds “just as painful as everyone does.”

    Van Den Abeele understood their reasoning, though. “On the road there is a lot more money for those who have a lot of talent. Especially in countries where no 'cross culture is present. Fortunately, Belgian cyclo-cross teams give a chance to foreigners." In addition, the racing calendars make it “almost impossible” to combine the two disciplines.

    "Actually the UCI itself provides the competition for 'cross," he said. "The UCI does not look down with contempt on 'cross, though. But even if that enthusiasm was not there, I would still continue my work. I still...

  • Pauwels suffers more bad luck in Koksijde World Cup round

    Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) crashed hard and ended the day in 12th place.
    Article published:
    November 24, 2012, 20:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Crash knocks Belgian from co-World Cup lead to fourth overall

    Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) started Saturday's UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round in Koksijde, Belgium tied for the overall lead with world champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), but Pauwels's stint of bad luck continued with a heavy fall in the early laps on the rain-soaked parcours.

    Pauwels lost traction and fell on a slick, right-hand bend and slid partially under the metal crowd retention barriers. The 28-year-old Belgian was slow to get back on his bike and ultimately finished the day in 12th place, more than two minutes in arrears of winner Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-KDL).

    As a result, Pauwels now lies fourth overall on the World Cup standings, 31 points behind Albert who's now the sole leader at 215 points following his runner-up finish on the dunes of Koksijde.

    "Until the crash happened I was reasonably fast," Pauwels told "But after that contact with the fence everything changed. I hit my left ankle against the leg of the barrier and I hope over the next few days I'm not bothered too much by the incident.

    "This makes all of my classifications bungled. Maybe in the future that will make it easier to win."

    Pauwels won the opening round of the World Cup in Tabor on October 21 and that result has remained his sole victory of the season thus far. He crashed spectacularly on a sand dune descent at the second Superprestige round in Zonhoven on November 4, yet still managed a fourth place finish, 29 seconds behind the winner Nys. Pauwels had injured his knee in the crash, however, and had difficulty training, resulting in a fifth place finish at the next...