If there were ever doubts about Sven Nys’ ability after the Belgian turning 34, they have been blown away by yet another super season in the mud.
The Belgian once again tops the UCI-rankings, leads the list of the number of victories, with 13, and on Sunday afternoon he won in Hoogstraten, crossing the line with ten fingers in the air. The victory secured Nys his tenth overall victory in the important Superprestige Series. How significant is that number? Well, second on the all-time Superprestige winners list is Hennie Stamsnijder, with 'only’ four wins.
“I don’t often say that what I do is special but this time I can say that this record won't be equalled some time in the near future,” Nys said.
“I think Stybar and Albert are the riders who could be my successors but they'll have to win the series every year for ten years in a row if they want this record. By the way, I'm not going to rest on my laurels. My next goal is winning number eleven. I want to remain as competitive as I can until the end of my career in 2014.”
The list of total race victories in the Superprestige is unsurprisingly also led by Nys with 54 wins currently on his palmares. Next on the list is the legendary Roland Liboton.
Nys explained why he rates the Superprestige Series as high as he does.
“Simply because it is the cyclo-cross series with the longest history. It's the only competition in which you can compare with the big names from the past. I'll never be like Liboton at the world championships [a five times world champion], although I already finished seven times on the podium [including one win]. Only big names have won this competition, like Liboton, Stamsnijder, Daniele Pontoni and Richard Groenendaal. In the series you can show you consistency,” Nys said.
The Cannibal of cyclo-cross
If Nys is one thing, he is consistent. The ‘cannibal’ of cyclo-cross finished off the podium fewer than five times this season.
While former rivals like Bart Wellens(Telenet-Fidea) are less competitive than before, there are enough young riders pushing to knock Nys off his throne. These include Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea), Kevin Pauwels(Telenet-Fidea) and Lars Boom (Rabobank). All of these men are almost a decade younger than Nys.
“It's getting harder every year as the young generation is getting stronger. Due to my age I don’t often get days when I'm unbeatable but today I was in total control,” he said. “Every time I looked back I saw mouths falling open. Due to the high level in the sport it's very unusual if a rider can gain a minute on his rivals. I'm proud that I pulled it off a couple of times this season,” Nys said.
With only a few races left this season one could expect Nys would take time to celebrate his victory but he wasn't planning on doing so just yet.
“Every rider wants to win one of the big series. The Superprestige is already mine and there's one more within my reach,” Nys said, referring to the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy in which he leads by only two points over Pauwels. A party? No way, we're going to take a look at this race with the inner circle and maybe we'll drink a glass but the GvA is the goal. I want to empty the glass right down to the last drop. I'm not taking a break before Oostmalle [February 20] and Hasselt [February 23],” Nys promised.