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The GP Sven Nys podium, topped by Kevin Pauwels, Nys himself and Bart Wellens.
Albert calls Nys the man to beat
After time relaxing on Mallorca, Sven Nys has declared that his preparations for the Belgian cyclo-cross championships couldn't have been better, and he is looking forward to a test of pure power in Hooglede-Gits on Sunday.
"I am fully recovered from the Christmas period," Nys said to Sporza.be. "This week has given me the mental peace to give the final percent toward the Belgian Championship. The program I completed this week was not hard, but the rest has done me well."
In contrast to the warmth and sun on the Spanish island, the weather in Belgium has left the course in Hooglede-Gits muddy and heavy - a situation which Nys says will leave no room for tactical battles. "Whoever can ride the strongest will be the Belgian champion. There will be no use in tactical games. The rider with the most power will win and that's not to my disadvantage."
"I know what level I can handle and I know how to approach such a race. I will ride my own race and ignore the others. I am prepared for any scenario."
Meanwhile, defending champion Niels Albert is recovering from a chest infection, but has vowed not to give away his jersey easily to Nys, who he named as the man to beat.
"I will be 100 per cent on Sunday," Albert said in a press conference. "After three days of antibiotics I feel better, though still not perfect. But I have two more days to recover."
While his last race, the GVA Trofee round in Baal, saw the BKCP-Powerplus captain in sixth place, nearly two minutes behind, Albert says that Sunday will be different. "Nys will not put two minutes into me. That will not happen.
"However, after his demonstration in Baal, Sven is the man to beat," Albert continued. "He must attack, so he's the man I should follow. It's a course for waiting."
Of his other rivals, many would tip Kevin Pauwels as a candidate for the jersey after his stellar start to the year, but Albert said there is too much running for the World Cup leader.
"I expect it to be more suited to Bart Wellens," he said.