By Laura Weislo
The second round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in the Czech Republic will see a couple firsts: the race will add three categories to its previously elite men only format: juniors, U23 men and women, and for the first time in years the leader in the series, rather than the UCI rankings leader, will be recognized with a special jersey now that the UCI has reinstituted the separate series leader board. And who better to take the #1 spot in the elite men's ranks than Sven Nys?
Nys assumed his normal position at the top of the ladder, but looked a bit more vulnerable in the opening round at Kalmthout than normal, perhaps due to the fact that he bashed his face in a crash the day before. Yet Nys, ever the fierce competitor, glued himself to the wheel of Niels Albert, who is making his elite category debut, and came around him on the line to take the win and the white World Cup jersey.
Albert will be looking for revenge in Tabor, but will have to keep an eye not only on the defending champion, Nys, but also on the local hero, Radomir Simunek Jr. who won this race two years ago. They all could fear the oncoming form of world champion Lars Boom (Rabobank), who for the first year is on a separate team from Nys, who now rides for Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner. The fast course could well suit the Dutch rider, who is coming into the 'cross season late after a successful road season.