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Sven Nys wins in Roubaix.
Belgian benefitting from summer of mountain biking
In previous cyclo-cross seasons, there has been at least three riders swapping victories throughout the season, but this year only one rider has proven dominant: Sven Nys.
The Belgian champion has amassed 11 victories to date, and five podium finishes, with only the first two World Cups in the Czech Republic sullied by misfortune. Compared with his previous three seasons, with 14 or 15 total wins, it is clear that Nys is currently the hot favourite to take the World Championship title come February in Louisville, Kentucky.
To what does Nys owe his current good form, which is nearly on par with his peak between 2004 and 2007? According to his coach the secret lies in his summer spent mountain bike racing in preparation for the Olympic Games.
According to Sporza.be, Paul Van den Bosch told Radio 1 that Nys is fresher for the 'cross season due to the foundations laid during the summer.
"Sven races cyclo-cross with an average heart rate of 181. In the mountain bike races he held the same high heart rate, but 45 minutes longer."
For that reason, Nys is able to consistently turn out his fastest laps when his competitors are fading. The result is wins in the past two World Cups in Koksijde and Roubaix, and the lead in the Superprestige series with four of five race wins - only a narrow defeat to Klaas Vantornout in Gieten is a blemish on his record.
Van den Bosch remains optimistic that Nys can hold his form through Louisville and take his second world title.
"Last season we were very disappointed after his seventh place at the World Championships in Koksijde. We thought a second world title would never come.
"But this season, we aren't discounting a second rainbow jersey. Sven is racing better than last season, and now he will be on equal footing at the start."