Belgium's elite men's cyclo-cross championship turned into a one-man show courtesy of Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) as he soloed to victory at the hippodrome in Waregem. It's the ninth Belgian title for Nys who's now only one title away from equalling Roland Liboton's record tally of 10 championships earned in the '80s. Shortly after his race the 37-year-old Belgian cyclo-cross legend looked ahead and eyed the record-equalling title.
"There wasn't too much pressure," Nys said of his ninth championship. "I had a good December month and entered the Christmas races optimally. It all worked out except for the bad luck in Essen and Namur where I was clearly the strongest of the bunch. It's often a matter of taking the right rest periods. Today I didn't make a mistake and rode the perfect race. Today I had surpluses, then it's easier to apply tactics and make no mistakes.
"I don't know if it'll be possible to get 10 titles," continued Nys. "When I was young I realized it was a strong record and I wondered who was ever going to equal it. Now I'm so close to achieving it. It would be nice but I'm not there yet.
"My career is much longer than that of Liboton, too. He stopped doing cyclo-cross at a much younger age so I've had more chances than him. I'm just trying to get the best possible performances in my career."
Nys recently declared that he's adding two more years of racing to his career, which means he's now scheduled to retire at the age of 40. When asked whether he would add some more years to that at the post-race press conference of the Belgian championships in Waregem, Nys played down the expectations.
"Ho, ho, ho, stop, certainly not," Nys laughed. Rob Peeters, runner-up at the Belgian championship, repeated this reaction, clearly hoping Nys would make way for him sooner rather than later.
Focus on Worlds
With the Belgian tricolore jersey in his pocket the next goal for Nys is the cyclo-cross world championship in Hoogerheide, Netherlands on February 2nd. It's a unique chance to clinch the Belgian championship-world championship double.
"I don't often have the chance to achieve it as I've only won the world championship twice," said Nys. "Tomorrow we're switching the button and focusing on Hoogerheide. Part of the sacrifices I'm making in the upcoming weeks already start tomorrow - I'm not racing in Otegem," Nys said. Otegem is the traditional race one day after the Belgian championships where the Belgian champion shows off his jersey.
"I'm doing only two more races ahead of Hoogerheide and those are Leuven and Zonnebeke." It means Nys will skip the final World Cup round at Nommay, France in two weeks' time. One can expect that there'll be mixed reactions about Nys' reduced program.
"I hope people respect my decision and don't make the wrong conclusions," said Nys. "I'm already at my best. What I need now to be fresh at the world championships is rest and the only place where I can find that is at my second home in Mallorca. I don't need races."