Nys pads Olympic MTB hopes with Antwerp win

Sven Nys has taken one step closer toward an Olympic Games selection in the mountain bike event with a victory in the Belgacom Belgian MTB Grand Prix in Antwerp today.

Nys rode away from the field at the start of the UCI category 1 race and never looked back. Fellow cyclo-crosser Tom Meeusen tried to chase but faded, while Jonas De Backer claimed the final podium spot.

The 35-year-old Nys has dominated the non-Olympic sport of cyclo-cross for the better part of 15 years, but just as he did for Beijing in 2008, Nys is putting extra effort into the fat tire side of cycling over the summer in order to qualify for London, while at the same time fulfilling his road obligations with the Landbouwkrediet-Euphony team.

Currently ranked fourth-best Belgian on the UCI cross-country rankings, Nys tacked on another 60 points with today's victory. He is competing with compatriots Ruben Scheire and Sebastien Carabin for one of two spots for Belgium in the Games - 21st-ranked Kevin Van Hoovels is the number one Belgian. Carabin, 23, and Scheire, 21 are, however, as yet unproven in the elite men's ranks, haven accumulated most of their points in the U23 ranks.

Nys is pinning his hopes on a high placing in the European championships to earn a bid for London. In 2008, he placed ninth in the cross-country race in Beijing.

"I have been preparing intesely for the European Championships for the past four weeks," Nys said after his Antwerp victory. "Also, the Tour of Belgium went well. This victory is a beautiful crowning glory."

The points garnered in Antwerp will help Nys to gain a better starting position for the European Championships, which take place on June 10 in Moscow.

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