By Brecht Decaluwé
After a week in which Nys' "poor" performances in Pijnacker (5th) and Niel (3rd), faced cheap press talk about his back problems, the UCI-leader set things right with an impressive performance in Hasselt.
The 31 year-old Belgian overcame a poor start and grabbed two bonus points for the GvA Trophy after the second lap, while GvA-leader and arch rival Bart Wellens missed out on the points during that intermediate sprint. Despite some solo efforts from Sven Vanthourenhout and later also Niels Albert, the race came down to another old school battle between Nys and Wellens.
Eventually it was the man from Baal who made fewer errors in the ultimate sectors of the fast and technical course, and captured his eighth win of the season. Nys moves within one point of GvA Trophy leader Bart Wellens.
Nys re-bounded to start this important weekend off in style, by winning another duel with Wellens. "It was thrilling through the last moment," Nys expressed his satisfaction. He started off badly, although he immediately came back to the front after the first lap. "I was having troubles with a pedal and lost a lot of positions. I immediately did all I could to move forward as there were points at stake after two laps. My efforts were successful as I was able to grab two points. From then on it was a matter of choosing the right tactics.
"Halfway through the race I started the chase on Albert, and only Wellens was able to follow. It was hard and I was on my limit, but so was Wellens as he couldn't take over from me. I decided to keep going until we caught Albert, and I'm lucky it happened because I couldn't go on much longer – I was up to the limit. From then on I could relax a little and focus on the win," Nys explained his race tactics on Sporza TV.
The UCI-leader's dominance was questioned after his rather poor performance last weekend, with only a third and fifth place as results. "Among the riders we laugh a lot about it because some riders make hay of a third or fifth place for the rest of the season. Anyway, it's flattering to receive criticism when you finish third or fifth," Nys smiled.