Nys shows of his technical prowess at Worlds in Hoogerheide. © Thomas Van Bracht
Anyone who watched Worlds yesterday was treated to a fantastic show: two titans of the cyclocross world, Zdenek Stybar and Sven Nys, both former World Champions, duked it out at the front of the race until the very end. Stybar may have taken the win, but Nys’ race was nearly perfect. And for the naysayers that were disappointed to see ’crosser-turned-roadie Stybar come in and take the win, Nys had a few things to say.
On the race… I thought it was possible, two or three laps before the end. I pushed a little bit harder and then I saw that he had trouble following, and that it was possible to win. Then I made small mistake after the tree where he crashed and got on my wheel. I waited half a lap, recovered a bit, and hoped that I could do something in the last lap.
On second place… We were together, strong, but it’s not so easy to have a gap with Stybar. He’s also mentally a little more fresh once 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.
On his preparation… I’m the guy who everyone said would win the race, and mentally that’s hard. My shape was on the highest level. When you race on the highest level, on a course that suits him [Stybar] really well… It suits him, he had a really good day but even then, I had a chance to win.
On being a winner… When you lose a race like this on the last lap, maybe with a small mistake… I was on the limit but he was also on the limit; I don’t think he has a really good sprint in his legs after a race like this. I’m really excited about a race like this, I’m really satisfied. I’m second place but I don’t think I’m a loser today. I’m also a winner, that’s what I take with me the rest of the season.
On racing Stybar… I knew that the hardest rider to beat was Stybar. If I won today, it’s better to win today from a big champion, and if I lose today, it’s better to lose from a big champion. For me, it’s better to have a race like this. He is three-time World Champion. He is not only a road racer, he is a good cyclocross rider who has all the skills to stay in the highest level, so for me it was better that Stybar was here, even when I am second.
On Stybar racing… It’s going to be harder to win! That’s what you saw in Koksidje when you saw him as defending champion. For cyclocross overall, it’s good if Stybar is doing all the races. But that’s something that he’s choosing, and I can imagine that he also wants to win a Classic on the road, and even then, when he wins a race like that, I’m going to say, ‘Damn, now i understand why I was second in World Championships in Hoogerheide.’
On the future of ’cross… For us, it’s important the the world is seeing that we are doing these races on a really high level and it’s not only a road racer who won. we can say it, but it’s also the press who can bring it to the world.