29 year-old Belgian cyclo-crosser Sven Nys keeps improving with age, it seems, and for the past two seasons has almost completely dominated the sport. Last year, he won the World Championship, UCI classification, Superprestige, Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Veldrijden, Belgian championship, and even the Belgian MTB Championship. This season, he has already carved out 16 wins (compared to his total of 25 last year) and again leads every major series. His most recent success came in the World Cup in Hofstade on Monday, where he closed a 23 second gap after puncturing, before going onto win the race by 14 seconds. Belgian coach Rudi de Bie described it as giving him goosebumps.
What's the secret to Nys' success? Quoted in De Volkskrant, the Rabobank rider said, "I possess a lot of talent, live for my profession, try to look after myself well, and physically I always have more in reserve." Nys has also taken time to work on his weak points, such as his mental approach, and his running. He is now an almost unbeatable opponent when he has set his mind on winning a particular race.
"There are periods when I take it easy," added Nys. "Then I don't put myself under any pressure. Some races I don't need to win. If it happens anyway, then I can certainly be happy about it."
By the end of the 2005-2006 season, Nys could well take a clean sweep of everything. His main rival Bart Wellens is suffering from injuries, and things have not gone well of late for the Fidea rider. Nys will line up at the World Championships in Zeddam next month as the top favourite, and it's a race that he wants to win again. Does he have anything more to prove?
"Nothing," was Nys' lighthearted response. "I've won everything that I can win. I only want to make my career a little bit nicer."