By Brecht Decaluwé
UCI-leader Sven Nys, in the middle of an intensive training week, including nights in his high-altitude room, wasn't expecting to be 100% for the races in Essen and Overijse. Indeed, the Belgian wasn't as dominant as usual, but he managed to grab two important victories in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee and the Vlaamse Druivenveldrit. Nys credited his wins to a more conservative race approach. After the GvA race in Essen, he said, "I rode defensively today as I didn't expect too much from this weekend. I did want to be as strong as I could today, but that might have turned out bad." Nys agreed his training gamble was worthwhile, saying "it turned out great as I won the race, so I guess I made the right decisions."
The current leader in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee, Bart Wellens, didn't like Nys' tactics on Saturday; the Belgian was in sight all race long but couldn't keep Nys from victory in Essen. "I went flat out all race long but Nys was very passive. Then he surprised me with an attack and took a hundred metres; it stayed a hundred metres..." said a disappointed Wellens.
The Vlaamse Druivenveldrit is a major classic in the cyclo-cross world; and even though the race is no longer included in a series like the World Cup, Superprestige or GvA-trofee, it’s still a race all the big guns want to win. Some big names were absent in Overijse, most due to illness; there was no Richard Groenendaal at the start nor Fidea-riders Bart Wellens and Klaas Vantornout.
Sven Nys added another big win on his already impressive list of seventeen victories this season in Overijse. In contrary to his defensive racing style in Essen, Nys was already gone halfway through the race. Once gone, nobody got close the UCI-leader again, although Nys suffered from some chain problems during the last lap. “I knew my chain was damaged and realized I needed to climb that hill with as little power as possible, eventually the chain was gone halfway the climb,” Nys explained. A similar incident happened to Nys in Niel earlier this season.
“For a moment I thought it was all over, but my luck was that I could still use my bike in the descent. When I was in front on the top of the hill I realized that I could still win the race,” Nys said. “I’m very happy to win here with the same sensations from two years ago: dominating in the sections where I needed to dominate, steering skillfully without making errors on the descents, riding with slicks which allowed me to maintain my speed on the climb and the road. Eventually my form allowed me do everything that I wanted to do,” Nys explained.
How was he able to win in Overijse, netting two wins in a weekend where he was expected to be off his top form? “That’s just the unpredictability of such a weekend, sometimes luck is on your side and sometimes it doesn’t. This year the ‘relaxed’ weekend wasn’t at all that bad,” Nys said smiling.