Belgian cyclo-cross star Sven Nys is aiming to contest the 2010 Ronde van Vlaanderen after announcing yesterday that he would leave the Rabobank squad for Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner. Nys signed with Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner for three years, which sees him leave Rabobank after 10 years with the Dutch squad, in the hope of completing a more diverse program that will include more road racing in the future.
"2009 is perhaps too early, but from 2010 I am certainly available again for the road," Nys told HLN.be. "I have in my life challenges. One of them is this: the Tour of Flanders, that I never [before] could ride."
The offer from Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, which was one of three options the Belgian considered, came after Filip Meirhaeghe introduced Nys to the team's management. Nys, who has won the cyclo-cross World Cup on multiple occasions, had also considered staying at Rabobank for yet another year, while his third option was to build his own team around himself.
"It is this offer which has the balance: a three year contract in a Belgian team in which I am able to meet my ambitions in the discipline of cyclo-cross, in combination with a program on the road," Nys said. "After 10 years at Rabobank I am begging for a fresh challenge."
Nys is one of the world's top athletes in the cyclo-cross discipline. Since turning professional in 1998, the 32 year-old has been Belgian Cyclo-cross Champion on five occasions, and won the world championship in 2005. The Belgian has also won the prestigious GvA Trophy five times and the Superprestige cyclo-cross series an impressive eight times.
"Finally, Sven has chosen the option which he said offered the best opportunities and safeguards with regards to sport, and not the most attractive proposition in financial matters," said Nys' manager Bob Verbeeck.
While Nys will ride a selection of road events in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games before starting his cyclo-cross season this year, the rider is aiming to start one of his homeland's biggest road events by 2010.
With the rider's future now signed off, Nys can focus on his efforts to become an Olympian in the mountain biking discipline at this year's Beijing Olympic Games in August. Nys, who has won two Belgian Mountain Biking Championship titles, will contest a number of road events, including the Omloop der Kempenv, and mountain bike races such as the Fort William and Italian World Cup events as he prepares for August's Games.
"All of these tests are part of the preparation, none of it is an objective in itself," said trainer Paul Van Den Bosch. "The sole aim is to be able to take this experience to Beijing to have a great performance."
Nys will also take to an altitude chamber in the lead up to Beijing, to ensure he's acclimatised for the event. "Scientific tests show the extent to which heat [coupled with high humidity] can have an impact on the performance of Sven compared to normal conditions," said Van Den Bosch. "At the moment, and in the coming months we will systematically work towards reducing this gap through training and acclimatization to altitude."
Nys will arrive at the Olympic mountain bike track in Beijing, China, on August 12, nine days before the elite men's race.