Sven Nys and Kevin Van Hoovels experienced bad luck and misfortune during the men’s Olympic cross country mountain bike race on Sunday. Nys was placed inside the top 20 and was comfortably making his way toward the leaders until a slow puncture hampered his progress during the second lap. The Belgian cyclo-cross national champion found himself losing precious time as he made his way toward the pits.
"The flat tire ruined everything," he told Nieuwsblad. "I got a puncture on a dumb stone, just about the furthest point of the pit. I lost a minute and was forced to chase. Then I cramped. I had no strength and the pain in my back was no longer tolerable. On the final lap I realised the effort was rediculous and I stepped off. That's sport. It was just bad luck."
The 36-year-old has not ruled out the possibility of a return to the Olympic Games in Rio - where he would be 40 but for the moment he is still coming to terms with the disappointment of London.
"It was already such an achievement to make it to the Olympics and the top-20 of Van Hoovels shows that I could have got a result. My condition was very good, it’s just a shame I could not show it.
Van Hoovels was the first Belgian to be selected for the London Games after he finished 15th at the cross country world championships in September last year but he, like Nys, was unhappy with his race. A tangle with another racer caused him to lose a number of places and while he was able to remount and continue his race, he could not achieve his goal of finishing inside the top-15.
"I finish in the top twenty but I cannot really satisfied. I was a perfect way but then I get tapped by a Canadian I think. If you are on the ground after travelling at such speed, you know immediately that you are in big trouble."
Van Hoovels was however, amazed by the experience of the Olympics and will be vying for another opportunity to prove his Olympic potential in four years time at Rio.
"The atmosphere here was enormous. The Olympics are truly a unique experience. I would certainly like to race again in Rio. I will be only 31, I am still young," he told Nieuwsblad.