Another year, another accolade for Belgium's Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) as one of cyclo-cross's most successful stars ever was voted Cyclingnews' cyclo-cross rider of the year for the ninth straight year and 11th time in the 12-year history of our poll, earning 5,495 votes (19.50%). Reigning US champion Jeremy Powers finished second overall with 11.30% of the vote, followed by reigning elite women's 'cross world champion and Cyclingnews' Female Road Rider of the Year Marianne Vos (9.78%).
In the early part of 2012, Nys soloed to his eighth elite national title, an emotional victory that left him in tears at the finish line after overcoming a last-second back injury that made his participation in doubt. At the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season Nys claimed his 11th Superprestige title but was left bitterly disappointed at his world championship performance where he finished as the seventh and final Belgian in his country's extraordinary sweep of the top seven places at the legendary sand dunes of Koksijde, Belgium.
"It might have been the last one I rode. Maybe I'm not made for this. I pulled it off one time and it'll remain the only one," Nys told Sporza following the race.
2012, an Olympic year, was particularly busy for Nys as he jumped into the fray of World Cup mountain bike races just three weeks after concluding his 2011-2012 'cross season. Nys made Belgium's Olympic team, but had a disappointing outing in London in August where he withdrew entering the final lap of the cross country event.
As the 2012-2013 'cross season loomed, the fire still burned within the 36-year-old. "The only question is: can I persist? To what extent can a body keep pushing the limits? If I feel that this winter is not going right, I will be wise to just slow down. I am still motivated. Everybody thinks ‘he cannot keep up, huh’. Well, I will go against it, I will show you something," Nys said.
And show us something he did, as the Belgian has won 11 races thus far in the 2012-2013 season, including two of four World Cups contested to date and the opening four Superprestige rounds. Despite hiccups in the first two World Cup rounds, where a broken chain and a crash kept him off the podium, with his two subsequent victories he's still in the running for the overall title, trailing leader Niels Albert by 15 points at the halfway mark. Nys holds a commanding lead in the Superprestige series and also holds second overall in the Bpost Bank Trophy. Following his most recent World Cup victory in Roubaix, France Nys moved into the overall lead of the UCI rankings as well.
Just business as usual for Nys. "I don't think I've ever been this good. I've certainly got more punch in my legs than other years. I can make a jump. I've also got the insights and experience of a 36-year-old," said Nys.
Is an elusive second 'cross world title in the cards this season? Check back in for next year's poll to see if Nys capped off another stunning season with a rainbow-striped jersey in February from Louisville, Kentucky's Eva Bandman Park.
Back in January Jeremy Powers rode away from the cream of the US elite 'cross world in Madison, Wisconsin to earn his first-ever national title and the Rapha-Focus rider has ridden that momentum to a dominating performance on US soil during the 2012-2013 'cross season. Powers set the tone early as he ticked another race off his career palmares with a solo victory at CrossVegas, the first UCI C1-ranked race of the season, and the 29-year-old proceeded to win each of the six C1 races he contested on US soil. Powers has won 12 races so far this season plus earned another US Gran Prix of Cyclocross series title.
Powers finished seventh in the opening World Cup round in Tabor, Czech Republic, the best-ever result by an American in the men's elite category, and after contesting two more World Cups in Plzen, Czech Republic and Roubaix, France, Powers will return to Europe in search of more points to make his goal of a front row start at the first 'cross Worlds held in the United States come to fruition for next February.
Third overall in the voting was Marianne Vos, who claimed her fourth straight 'cross world championship (and fifth for her young career) in January at Koksijde, Belgium. Despite riding an abbreviated 2011-2012 'cross season, due to her commitments on the road, Vos still won 14 races, including the final four World Cup rounds and a Dutch national title, leading up to her world title in January.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|9||Daphny van den Brand||0.90%|
|10||Sanne van Paassen||0.52%|
Total: 28,185 votes with 19,102 selections made and 9,083 no opinion votes