by Kat Statman
At Ruddervoorde, Sven Nys just missed the podium. © Dan Seaton
So I had a really great idea to break down the awesomeness of the last round of the World Cup in Plzen. Talking about the grit and determination, the anger, the power, and the amazingly intelligent move made by Nys to take the win; but, the internet has thwarted me. So instead this week … well, we’re still going to break down the brilliance that is the World Cup Plzen. Don’t worry, we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.
So in today’s world, finding things on the Internet is easy. Very rarely do we miss the televised ’cross races, since we can often find them through some method of live streaming. If we do miss the stream, there are always Twitter updates or that every so important highlight video that often comes up by that evening. And of course, don’t forget the option of reading things in an online news source, like Cyclocross Magazine!
Because I don’t spend all day in my little editorial hole thinking about what the pro racers out there are doing and tracking them down on the Internet and because I occasionally show up to ’cross races for a good eye-bleed, I did miss all of the World Cup race but the first two laps and the last lap (that’s all that matters right?) So even though I didn’t catch it live, I did catch the final lap replays as well as a bit of the reporting from some of the more exciting moments of the race.
OK, I know you’ve all been waiting for my breakdown of the race. Let’s start at the beginning. What was up that cameraman on the start line when the light turned green (not quite as exciting as a gun going off, is it?). Niels Albert and Tim Johnson’s races’ were nearly killed because of some inept officials and cameramen. Have to admit: not cool in so many ways. I know it’s been played up a bit, but would a restart have been that much better?
We generally think that the elites are safer in race starts, right? Well, not so. When you put 50-plus guys or girls on a start line and they are battling to get to one narrow place, well, chaos ensues. So … start line crashes. But let’s get to the important parts.
Jeremy Powers destroying in the top ten all race. I hope no one missed that! What about all the bunny-hopping going on? I hope everyone took note that we need to start bunny-hopping barriers now, it’s not just Nys or Powers doing it to please the crowd and gain a bit more, but everyone.
OK, now on to what I think was the most interesting part of the whole race: the last lap. ’Cross races can sometimes be “determined” before the last lap, except for the possibility of an untimely crash or mechanical. But, when it’s a race like this weekend and Nys, Stybar and Pauwels all come into the final lap together, you know it’s going to be crazy.
As they hit the pavement Stybar was in the front and he was driving it, and I mean driving it. He had a grimace on his face and was just drilling it as hard as he could, using every ounce of his pro tour speed to try to dislodge Nys and Pauwels. But to no avail. He kept driving it like that on the dirt too, using his strong bike-handling skills. Then Nys sneaks around to the front and noticeably slows the pace down: are we seeing the closing years of the king, where the pace is a little high so he slows it down a bit?
That didn’t last long and all of sudden, Stybar takes back the front before the reasonably long stair run-up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Euro ’crossers attack stairs so hard and fast. They absolutely hammered those stairs, it looked they were crying that they were going so hard … and then, the reason that Nys is the king and will still be for a long time coming, came.
Stybar left a little bit too much room on the inside of a corner, with a tree in the apex, I might add, and then Nys got crafty and snuck in the hole that he could barely fit through, hit the front and never looked back. Sometimes when you don’t have the power in the sprint, well, you have to get crafty and that is exactly what Nys did. He got crafty.
So to all the Nys-haters saying he’s washed up, sometimes brains beats brawn in bike races. Who’d of thought?