Sven Nys' win in the Kalmthout World Cup on Sunday was not a great surprise, but his appearance on the podium was a bit of a shock. The Belgian champion crashed in the previous day's race in Lebbeke and was hit in the face with his own bike. The result was a gash above his eye with several stitches and a swollen and bruised face.
Despite this and other injuries, Nys out-sprinted the young hopeful Niels Albert to win the opening round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. It was his fourth victory of the season for his new Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner team.
Nys said that despite his eye being partially swollen shut, his vision was "good enough" to take the start in Kalmthout, and added that he had injured two fingers on his left hand as well as his right arm. "But that is cyclo-cross," he said.
Nys, unhindered by his injuries, took the lead early in the race before falling behind due to a mechanical. When Albert made his attack, Nys was the only one able to power back to his younger countryman. Nys then allowed Albert to do most of the work at the front, including leading into the sprint. The more experienced Nys waited just long enough to overtake Albert on the line to grab the first World Cup race of the season.
When asked about the eye problem Nys faced after Saturday's crash, the Belgian champion replied, "My eye? Today I was mainly confronted with pain in my legs," he said.
Van den Brand dominates in Kalmthout
Daphny Van den Brand's blonde plaits were dancing again in Kalmthout where she won the World Cup opener for the third consecutive time. Dutchwoman Van den Brand took the initiative during most of the race, but she had to wait for the ultimate lap to create a decisive gap over World Champion Hanka Kupfernagel. The German woman easily held off young Pavla Havlikova of the Czech Republic in the sprint for second place.
Canadian Wendy Simms rode a steady race and finished eighth to take the lead in the UCI rankings, while pre-race favourite Katie Compton of the USA pulled out during the first lap.
Van den Brand made her winning move from a leading group of six riders on the final lap, taking the lead from Christel Ferrier-Bruneau and then hitting the gas. Kupfernagel, who was in third wheel, could not get past the French woman to chase and Van den Brand stormed off to her fourth consecutive win in Kalmthout.