For the third time in his career Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) has won the Jaarmarktcross in Niel. Despite not being featured in a classification competition like the Superprestige Series or the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, the race is still considered a cyclo-cross classic.
Belgian champion Nys was comfortably leading the mudfest near the Rupel River when he encountered a problem that nobody could possibly have envisaged. When Nys entered the pit during the sixth lap, he suddenly started looking around.
“Somehow I felt something was about to happen when I rode towards the pit. Once in there I found out none of my mechanics were there,” Nys said. “I shouted out loud to them and kept standing still even though I could have done a stop-and-go, but I really wanted a different bike.
“Before that I had been juggling with tyre pressure and the bike I rode with had way too much air in it. Tyre pressure is crucial in a race like this and that’s why I wanted to change my bike, no matter what it took.”
Nys' mechanic Gerrit Cortmans gave his view on things right after the incident. “We just weren't ready yet,” Cortmans admitted. “Because he usually changes bikes in the other pit, we were caught by surprise. It's a sad incident, but we were only allowed to have two guys in the pit.”
Afterwards Nys didn't want to blame his mechanics. “Of course it would've been sad to lose out on the win because of it. On the other hand, those guys have worked extremely hard for fifteen years and one mistake doesn't take that away,” Nys explained. “I'm sure it was hectic in the pit and I'm convinced it will never happen again. Now I can laugh with it but when it happened I was pissed.”
The Belgian champion was then saved by another rider's mechanic who noticed the problem and handed Nys his bike. “I think it was one of Sven Vanthourenhout’s mechanics,” Nys said. Vanthourenhout is one of Nys' closest friends on the cyclo-cross circuit.
“What happened then was weird though. Christoph Roodhooft shouted to him: ‘you can't touch that,’” Nys continued, explaining that Roodhooft tried to convince the mechanic that only Nys' pit crew was allowed to hand him a bike.
Meanwhile, chaser Niels Albert from Roodhooft's team BKCP-Powerplus passed the pit area and suddenly found himself on Nys' wheel. “I have to admit that it surprised me. I've never ran into something like that and I hope it never happens to me,” Albert said. “In the end I was just happy to be in the mix for the podium and I'm satisfied with that. During previous races I ended up at almost a minute from the winner whereas now I was at about twenty seconds and that sounds like good progression to me.”
The duo only rode together for briefly because Nys quickly distanced on Albert on the same lap. “On a good day, I'm running well – despite having done no running training at all this summer due to my MTB season - and even though Niels bridged back up with me I was able to drop him without any major effort,” Nys said. “It's a tremendous feeling to ride around like that.”