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Nys leaves cyclo-cross Worlds feeling like a winner

Brecht Decaluwé
February 2, 21:03,
February 2, 20:03
First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, February 16, 2014
UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, Elite Men
Sven Nys (Belgium) on the podium

Sven Nys (Belgium) on the podium

  • Sven Nys (Belgium) on the podium
  • Sven Nys (Belgium) takes on the Worlds course
  • Sven Nys (Belgium) finished second

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Belgian says Stybar's victory shows cyclo-cross is on a high level

Defending world champion Sven Nys lost his rainbow jersey on Sunday afternoon at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, but he lost it in style. In a great race-long duel with Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), Nys seemed to have the upper hand for most of the race, but then made too many mistakes in the final laps. The 37-year-old Belgian rider said afterwards he didn't feel like a loser but like a winner.

"We were equally strong, both on a really high level. We were both on our limit. I don't think I'm a loser today. I'm also a winner and that's what I take along for the remainder of the season," Nys said. "I think it was possible [to beat him in the last lap]. I don't think he still had a good sprint left in his legs. I accelerated in the closing laps and he had trouble following. I made small mistake after the tree. I waited half a lap and recovered a bit. It was not so easy to have a gap on Stybar."

When asked what made the difference Nys came up with several reasons. "Mentally he's a little bit more fresh because he doesn't race the whole season. I'm happy with my second place. It wasn't easy to defend my jersey. I'm nearly 38, I never forget that. There's also the pressure. I was the guy of which everybody said would win the race. It's mentally hard.

"My shape was on the highest level but [Stybar is] a big champion who found a course that suits him really well. If it would've rained all week long like in many European countries then maybe it would have been easier to have a gap on him. He had a really good day and even then I had a chance to win."

Nys wasn't surprised it came down to a duel between him and Stybar. The only riders who followed early on were also the riders who Nys expected to perform well. He didn't expect any of his compatriots to battle for the victory and that turned out to be correct. The short appearance from Stybar in the cyclo-cross scene this season wasn't badly received by Nys.

"Definitely not. If I won today it would be better if it was against a big champion. For me it's better to have a race like this. He's not only a road racer. For me it was better that Stybar was here. If he chooses cyclo-cross then it would be harder to win for him. That's what you saw in Koksijde [2012] when he did forty races. That's something he's chosen. I imagine he also wants to win a big Classic. If he wins a Classic I'll say ‘damn' and understand why I lost at the world championships in Hoogerheide."

"He's a triple 'cross world champion. He's not stealing the rainbow jersey here. Everybody has the right to schedule their own season. He does it this way, we do it through the 'cross series."

Nys ended his part of the post-race press conference with a surprising request to explain to the world that this victory from classy Stybar was a proof that the level in cyclo-cross is high.

wallymann 6 months ago
great analysis from nys...stybar is a triple world champion and world-cup winner -- he aint no joke. this off-season stybar's built a BIG MOTOR gearing up for the spring classics...which worked perfectly since the course was (relatively) fast an non-technical on the could see that he simply had that little more gas in the tank and freshness in the final.
JackSpoke 6 months ago
Classy Nys, Classy Stybar. Two top contenders fighting it out for the crown. What's not to like!
Lucifa 6 months ago
It's just a MTB race really. RR's poor brother. It's what stock cars are to F1. A red neck sport.
TommyD 6 months ago
somethng something motor cars, irrelevant and poorly informed opinion, bitter bitter etc.. Thanks lucifa.
dolande 6 months ago
Never really like races when one or two guys go in the front. But I must say this race was awesome
slam that stem 6 months ago
Nys you are total class and a gentleman. Bravo on your great race.
jmdirt 6 months ago
Good ride SN!
Ron497 6 months ago
Wow! I'd honestly follow sportsball if the athletes gave interviews like this. No joke. If they not only gave honest, thoughtful answers, but had the dignity to praise their counterparts in an honest way - like he said the course suited Stybar, but that he's still a "big champion." How refreshing! How honest! And right on, they both were at their limit. That was great to watch. I also wonder why other sports aren't more like this? What has ruined NBA players, NFL players, MLB players to all be egomaniacs who talk in coded cliches? Is it the money? Are they actually so stupid they can't think of anything to say? And why do they taunt and harass other players via twatz and such? Why not be humble? To end on a high note, GREAT race, two BIG champions. Wonderful to watch, and read!
wheelman1uk 6 months ago
Sven you seem to be whingeing that the only reasons you were beaten was because Zdenek had not ridden as many cross races as you and that you are older than him. No! The simple fact is that you were beaten fair and square on the day by a better man. Yes you were a winner. First of the "also-rans"