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Belgacom MTB GP Antwerp podium: Tom Meeusen, Sven Nys and Jonas De Backer
Two Belgian mountain bikers headed to Hadleigh Park
Belgium qualified two male and no female mountain bikers for the 2012 London Olympic Games. While Kevin Van Hoovels had secured his spot in 2011 by virtue of finishing 15th at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, the race was on to fill the second spot.
The Belgian Cycling federation had set strict criteria for filling the second spot and had said that no one would go as the second rider if the criteria were not met.
To fill the second spot, a rider had to place in the top 12 of one of the first four World Cups of 2012 or in the European Championships. Several racers, including Ruben Scheire, Sebastien Carabin, Tom Meeusen, Kevin Pauwels and Sven Nys were all hungrily chasing the final spot, and finally this weekend, Sven Nys met the criteria. The cyclo-cross star finished 10th in the European cross country championships in Moscow on Sunday.
"Before the race I was a bit in a panic," said Nys to Belgian media according to Solobike.it. "because I could not decide on the tires. The right choice gave me a ticket to London." Conditions in Sunday's race were very muddy and treacherous, and riders struggled to decide which equipment to race.
Nys doesn't have much time between now and August to continue to improve his form, but he realizes that he first needs a break. "My plan is ready, of course, but first I have to recover somewhat, especially mentally, because the pressure was enormous," he said to Neiuwsblad.be. "It was a long cyclo-cross season and then there were all the mountain bike races. I'll make sure my legs are good for London and I have the race of my life."
Nys also raced in the Olympic Games in 2008. He finished ninth in the elite men's mountain bike race in Beijing.