The first day of the year is a day of changes in cyclocross. Treams present new sponsors, new teams appear for the first time and cyclist show up for different teams than just two days before. All this took place at the GP Sven Nys in Baal/Vlaams Brabant for the last 14 years. And so it happened this year as well, but still there was something special in the air.
“Call to all fans, friends and family. Tommorow at 3 o’ clock at the Balenberg. I will be there too. And I need all your support very much” – Sven Nys tweeted on New Years Eve. And it seemes he was as nervous as hardly ever before.
A new team that he built, and that was just built around him. Existing and new sponsors to support the team. And last but not least the possibly most observed and discussed change of bicycle in history of cyclocross. All the time of his professional career, he had been using bikes built by Ernesto Colnago. But now after fifteen years this aera ended. From this day on Nys is running on cylces made by Trek Bycicles.
The world champion was really crazy about his new working tool, but had to admit that he did not manage to test the new bike at race conditions in the field. Maybe it was the location of the Trek headquaters in Waterloo (WI) which made him fear that a defeat could happen. Whatever it was, I can’t remember Sven Nys beeing as nervous in the starting grid ever before.
But when the starting light changed to green, Nys switched into competition mode, and a demonstration of power and determination was about to roll off. Reaching the uphill section leading to the Belgacom Arch, Nys accelerated and immediatly opened a gap. The only driver running up was the young german Philipp Walsleben. In the second lap Nys gained to 15 seconds bonification for winning the intermediate sprint and dropped speed after that.
Now the rest of the pack led by Rob Peeters who showed a strong ride for his new team “Vastgoed Service – Golden Palace”, managed to get back to the world champion. But not for long. Next time up to the Belgacom Arch, Nys accelerated again …. and was gone.He rode one fastest lap followed by the next. The only fault of Nys happend during the last lap, where he slipped of the bike and lost some seconds. But at the end, a Sven Nys beeing more than happy managed to step of the bike and carried it across the finish line. Just as he did three days ago, when he said goodbye to his old Colnago.
The remaining chasers could only compete for beeing the best of the rest. Rob Peeters was racing a truly good race in his new Jersey but two laps before the end, he had to pay the price for his efforts. He was caught by Zdenek Stybar who managed to overtake Peeters and finished the race on second place. During the last lap Peeters had to let Niels Albert pass him, and finished in fourth place.
Sven Nys was more than happy. It was as if a dream came true for him and so he was aglow with hapiness during the winning ceremony.
A full report of all races can be found at cx-sport.de (german only).