The sudden disappearance of his left pedal in the final sprint of the Superprestige round in Gieten last week could have turned out much worse for Sven Nys. The Belgian champion was in the lead group as the line approached, but as he launched his sprint, his Shimano XTR pedal became detached from the crank arm - something that could have easily caused a serious crash.
Luckily for Nys, he stayed upright and was able to run his bike across the line for fourth place. Luckier still, the three men ahead of him weren't contending for the overall series victory, and Nys was able to maintain his overall lead.
At the time, there was much speculation as to what happened to the pedal. Did it break? Did it come unthreaded? Both scenarios seemed unlikely considering the reputation of the Shimano pedal and of the mechanics who service Nys's bikes.
The Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad examined Nys' bike after the race, and they had the impression the pedal had just come off the crank. Fons Wouters, Nys' mechanic, didn't agree with that theory when interviewed last week. "That the pedal would've turned off the crank during the race is hard to believe. ... If the pedal had been loose then Sven would've noticed right away, leaving him without a chance to even think about all-out sprinting," Wouter told Het Nieuwsblad.
Shimano requested an investigation, as it would with any equipment failure. They seemed convinced the pedal came unscrewed from the crank arm and, after looking into the issue with the team, both parties agreed today that this was the case.
"Shimano investigated the incident together with the Landbouwkrediet team management. Both parties agree that the pedal was not tightened well enough. This means that the pedal did not break, as was reported in various media. We hope this decision clarifies all the uncertainties surrounding this incident."
Before the conclusion was reached, Wouters did agree that the Shimano pedals hadn't failed in 15 years, and said, "Luckily Nys isn't a bad-tempered person, but of course we want to keep mistakes likes these out of our game; this is top sport. Nys could have crashed and broken a collarbone, bringing an end to his season."