The Bell, The Bobble, The Final Blow
As with last year at Louisville, gold and silver pulled onto the finishing straight for the bell lap together. Now too, as then, it was clear that the race would be decided in only one of two ways: With both riders so evenly matched, one would have to make a race-ending mistake, or the championship would be decided in a flurry of punches in an agonizing sprint to the finish. Though Nys’ kick is impressive, the betting house was placing the odds on Štybar if it came to the line.
The final lap will be talked about for months to come:
Štybar attacks leading into the flyover, sprinting up the climb and launching down the back side. Nys responds. Štybar punches again, his whole body rocked by the effort, hurling himself across the parcours. Again, Nys responds, clinging to Štybar as they enter into a tricky, tacky riser.
Štybar presses his attack. Nys loses his back wheel. A bike length is gone.
Nys’ bobbles on a rising left hand turn. Two bike lengths are gone.
Nys is off his bike. Three bike lengths.
Nys is running. Four.
Nys is back on his bike.
Štybar is gone.
At the line, Štybar cannot believe it. He looks behind him, sees Nys – who masterfully sprinted the remainder of the course in an attempt to recover gold, sailing around the tree that had felled many racers in the past two days – painfully close but too far to affect the outcome now. The Czech champion, again the World Champion, kisses his bars, raises his hands. He had nothing to lose – his eyes are trained on Roubaix, on Flanders, on the Grand Tours – and perhaps by virtue of having nothing to lose, he won it all.
Nys, the consummate professional, waves to the crowd. He can be proud of this race; he gave everything, as did Štybar, and in giving everything they created a show worth watching, again and again.
“We were together, strong, but it’s not so easy to have a gap with Štybar,” he later said. “He’s also mentally a little more fresh when he doesn’t race the whole season. It maybe cost me the world title but I’m happy with second place. It wasn’t easy to defend the jersey. I’m 38, I never forget that.”
Behind them both, Pauwels – after recovering from a tangle with fencing – overtook Vantornout for third, placing two Belgians on the podium as the primarily Dutch and Belgian crowd listened to the Czech national anthem echo across the fields of Hoogerheide.
Report written by Robbie Carver and contributed to by Paul Burgoine
Check out Stybar’s World Championship winning bike here, and watch the highlight reel from the race here. See our full coverage of all racing, bikes and racers on our 2014 Cyclocross World Championships Page.
Results follow gallery
UCI Cyclocross World Championships 2014 Elite Men Gallery by Thomas van Bracht
UCI 2014 Cyclocross World Championships Elite Men Results
|6||Lars VAN DER HAAR||NED||23||1:06:51|
|12||Corne VAN KESSEL||NED||23||1:07:58|
|16||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||28||1:08:14|
|19||Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN||NED||29||1:08:32|
|33||Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ||ESP||35||1:11:04|
|35||Michael (JR) SCHWEIZER||GER||23||1:11:20|
|39||Aitor HERNANDEZ GUTIERREZ||ESP||32||1:11:42|