Another year, another win for Sven Nys. While the Belgian champion's performance this season has not quite been vintage Nys domination, nonetheless Cyclingnews readers conferred top honours in the men's cyclo-cross category to the 33-year-old Belgian for the sixth straight time and eight of the previous nine polls. Bart Wellens, in 2003, has been the only other male to win the category.
Unlike the previous year, in which Nys led all major cyclo-cross classifications (UCI, World Cup, Gazet van Antwerpen and Superprestige) at year's end, he led none of the standings at the close of 2009. However, Nys has proved time and time again that he can't be counted out of any 'cross race he enters.
After ignominiously DNFing at the opening World Cup in Treviso, Italy, Nys podiumed at the next six World Cup events, including a dramatic victory in the snow at Kalmthout, Belgium, after overcoming a disastrous first lap.
Nys has seven other wins this season, including two Superprestige victories at Ruddervoorde and Gieten. He podiumed at the first five Superprestige races of the season, but a broken derailleur in the sixth at Diegem unfortunately dropped him from the series lead. Despite relinquishing the series lead to Albert, Nys reached an illustrious milestone with his win at Gieten, the 50th Superprestige victory of his career.
Nys has been at his best when Mother Nature has been at her worst, with wins in the ice and snow at the Noordzeecross and Scheldecross as well as his first World Cup win of the season at Kalmthout. Perhaps that bodes well for what is expected to be a frigid World Championship in Tabor, Czech Republic.
There's been no curse of the rainbow jersey for world champion Niels Albert, other than finishing as runner up to Nys in Cyclingnews' men's 'cross poll. The 23-year-old Belgian has been dominant this season, racking up 12 wins on his way to leading all four 'cross classifications (UCI, World Cup, Gazet van Antwerpen and Superprestige) at year's end.
Albert soloed to victory in the opening World Cup in Treviso, won the next two rounds in Plzen and Nommay, and has been the only rider to don the white leader's skinsuit this year.
Albert has also won twice on the Superprestige circuit, claiming Hoogstraten and Gavere, the site of his 2008 ruptured spleen incident. Additionally, Albert won two GvA events, at Namur and Rouwmoer.
Albert has come the closest of anyone to dethroning Nys atop the Cyclingnews Reader Poll and perhaps the next edition will be the young Belgian's turn.
Best Male Cyclo-crosser
1. Sven Nys: 5130
2. Niels Albert: 3381
3. Lars Boom: 2298
4. Tim Johnson: 805
5. Jonathan Page: 763
6. Ryan Trebon: 672
7. Zdenek Stybar: 301
8. Erwin Vervecken: 259
9. Klaas Vantornout: 239
10. Bart Wellens: 222