Sven Nys: I'm only human

Belgian cross champion angry about criticism after losing his cyclo-cross crown

Sven Nys (Crelan AA Drinks) will not race in Belgium this weekend, preferring to spend time in Mallorca, licking his wounds and training hard after a slump in his cyclo-cross form and results.

The 38 year-old is considered one of the greats of cyclo-cross but has struggled to compete against the emerging new generation of young and talented cross riders. He was only fourth in the Bpost race in Hasselt last Saturday and then he abandoned the Druivencross race in Overijse. He has since undergone a string of medical checks to check for any physical problems but is struggling to understand why he is no longer the king of Belgian cyclo-cross.

"I have good feelings on the bike. Only the results in the field are less than expected," Nys told Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen.

"The osteopath straightened me out as often happens during the season, apparently I was a bit lopsided. But that can't explain why I was so bad in Overijse. I don't feel sick and my blood test results prove that I'm not. But I can't pinpoint a single cause. I think everything has played a part.”

In a reflective mood, Nys insisted he was only human.

“As soon as I get back to being successful, then I probably look back on this as a very instructive period,” he said. “It is not the first time that I'm in such a dip. I'm only human and not a robot. Maybe I gave the impression that everything went smoothly over the years but that is not so.”

Nys has been in Mallorca since Tuesday and well remain on the Spanish island until next week, returning north to compete in Essen on Saturday December 20th and at the Namur World Cup race the following day. He will then tackle the intense series of Christmas and New Year holiday races.

Criticism goes too far, no plans to retire

Nys was criticised by some of the Belgian cyclo-cross fans and the Flemish media after quitting the Overijse race. He dismissed suggestions that he is too old to compete against the new generation of riders, and insisted that he will decide when it is right to being down the curtain on his long and successful career.

“What bothers me most is that the criticism went too far,” he said.

“Especially since those comments often come from people who praised me a month earlier and said that I'd continue to dominate until I was 50. To change from one day to another, to claim that I'm too old, goes too far. Maybe that's why I feel less good about myself.”

Nys is set to race until the spring of 2016 with Crelan AA Drinks.

“I can live with people expressing themselves after they saw that my career was a success for many years but these people have no right to deny me pleasure in my sport. I want to stop in a decent way,” Nys said.

"I remain calm and want to make sure I take enjoyment from my sport. Top level sport is like balancing on a tightrope. I can't predict when I'll be back on that rope but I feel I'm going in the right direction and hope to be back to my old self at Christmas time.”

"These young guys are not a curse for me. They keep me focused and motivated. I have no trouble getting down from my throne. At the age of 38 you must let go of certain things. Those who can't do that are old and frustrated riders. And that's the last thing I want to be."
 

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