Another year, another best cyclo-cross rider victory for Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) as voted by the readers of Cyclingnews. The 37-year-old Belgian has absolutely owned the category, winning for the 10th straight year and the 12th time in the 13-year history of the Reader Poll, earning a massive 47.7% of the votes in this year's tally. Reigning women's 'cross world champion Marianne Vos (Rabobank Liv/Giant) finished second with 20.9% while nine-time US women's champion and current World Cup leader Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) rounded out the top three at 9.2% of the vote.
While Nys has been a consistent winner year in and year out throughout the 'cross calendar, the world championship has been an area where he's perhaps under-performed, at least to the lofty standards expected of the Belgian star. Twice a U23 'cross world champion (1997-1998), he'd only won once at the elite level (2005)...until this past February 1st. History was made in Louisville, Kentucky as the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships were held outside of Europe for the first time in the 64-year run of the event, and it's fitting that Nys, an outspoken proponent of the globalisation of the sport, would win his second elite world title on US soil after a hard-fought contest against compatriot Klaas Vantornout. The slippery parcours, primarily mud as the morning's frozen surface melted throughout the day, was very much to Nys's liking.
"I've got a lot of podium places in the world championships, but for me it doesn't work at the end of the season," said Nys. "One of the reasons is most of the races have been very fast over the past 10 years, and it is difficult for me to win those races. Over here there were a lot of technical skills required, and the atmosphere helped a lot. I felt it the whole week."
Post Worlds, Nys would end the 2012-2013 season in first place on the UCI standings and added a 12th Superprestige series title to his palmares.
Nys kicked off the current 2013-2014 season in fine fashion with another victory on US soil, this time under the lights in Las Vegas, Nevada in front of a raucous crowd at CrossVegas. While he's had some hiccups in his World Cup campaign, a pair of fourth place results in the two most recent World Cups are his best results, he's notched eight victories thus far this season, including two in the Superprestige series and two in the bpost bank trofee series. Nys won Superprestige Gavere for the ninth time in his career and held a commanding lead after four rounds, but a mechanical at the next event in Gieten forced Nys to DNF and he's now second overall to compatriot Niels Albert. His bpost bank trofee overall hopes have also been affected by mechanicals, but Nys is philosophical nonetheless about his bout of bad luck.
"That’s cycling. I’ve had many years without bad luck in the Superprestige. One year a broken derailleur ruined my chances and it seems to happen once again," Nys said.
There's still plenty of racing still to come this 'cross season, and ample time for Nys to keep adding victories to his considerable palmares. Next up for Nys is round five of the World Cup, contested December 26 on home soil in Heusden-Zolder where the Belgian is the defending champion.
|4||Lars van der Haar||6.1%|
|8||Mathieu van der Poel||2.7%|
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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.
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