DÜBENDORF, Switzerland—After a relatively dry first day of racing on Saturday, Day 2 of the 2020 UCI Cyclocross World Championships would deliver a heavy muddy day, as a lot of rain hit the Dübendorf airfield in Switzerland.
The first race of Sunday was the Junior Men’s race, where the son of cyclocross legend Sven Nys, Thibau (BEL), started as the main favorite, after winning the European Championships, the Belgian Nationals and the World Cup overall title this season. Could he do what his father never did, and win a rainbow jersey as a Junior?
Nys took the holeshot today, as French rider Florian Richard went down in the Swiss mud, holding up most of the bunch. The U.S.’ Magnus Sheffield then took over the lead going towards the first stairs on the track, followed by Switzerland’s own Dario Lillo. Sheffield took control of much of the first lap, holding off others’ efforts to get by on a steep run-up.
Halfway through the first lap, Thibeau Nys pushed to the front again, passing Sheffield on a descent, followed by Dutch rider Tibor Del Grosso.
By the end of the lap, five riders had distanced themselves: Nys, Del Grosso, Lillo, Lennert Belmans (BEL) and Davide De Pretto (ITA).
The Italian rider soon dropped away, but when Nys attacked, they all started to struggle. By the end of the second lap, Nys had an 11 seconds advantage on Lillo and 14 seconds on Belmans already.
Belmans caught Lillo again in the second-to-last lap, as they also were joined by another Belgian, Emiel Verstrynge. With one more lap to go and a 39-second advantage, the fans of the Nys family were about to celebrate yet another World Title.
Nys held on to his advantage in the last lap and took his first rainbow jersey.
“I couldn’t believe it, I have no words,” he said after his victory. “I knew I was in good shape, but on this course I didn’t know how I was going to ride. Halfway through the race I had a small gap and I just rode my own thing and it was enough. I rode a really good year, I became European Champion and won the World Cup, so automatically you’re the race favorite. There was so much pressure. But I think it’s a course where the strongest rider wins and it was me.”
In the background, Belmans had successfully started pushing for sliver, as Lillo and Verstrynge were battling for bronze. Last-lap drama then unfolded for Lillo, as he crashed going down one of the last uphills. Verstrynge opened up a gap which he held to the line to deliver an entire Belgian podium sweep.
“Thibau was the strongest, but I’m very happy with silver,” Belmans said.
“In the beginning, I was looking for the good feeling a bit, but in the last lap I joined,” Verstrynge said. “I kept putting pressure on Lillo and he made a mistake.”
U.S.’ national champion Andrew Strohmeyer was first American with a 10th-place finish. Magnus Sheffield, after his spectacular start, took 28th, Nick Carter 41th and Jared Scott 60th.
Canada’s Cody Scott finished 51th, Matthew Leliveld 57th.
Full results are below.
Junior Men Results: 2020 Cyclocross World Championships, Dübendorf Switzerland
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