Changing of the guard? Sven Nys was not his dominant self in Koksijde. 2014 Koksijde UCI Cyclocross World Cup, Elite Men. © Bart Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

Sven Nys, shown here at Koksijde, has not excelled to his usual standards this year.  © Bart Hazen / Cyclocross Magazine

ESSEN, Belgium – Sven Nys announced his withdrawal today form the upcoming World Cup in Namur via Twitter  following a disappointing thirteenth place finish at the Bpost Bank Trofee race in Essen.

Nys’ loss of his top standing in the series, crossing the line nearly three minutes down on the race winner Wout Van Aert, marks a low point for the former World Champion who has won the series an unprecedented nine times.

Confirmation of the decision came from Nys’ coach, Paul van den Bosch. “It is clear that something is going on. We do not know what, but it’s no use to draw from his body again,” said van der Bosch speaking to the Belgian press. “It is better that Sven is now taking a time out. We have decided in consultation after the game in Essen.”

With eighth place finishes at  both Superprestige Spa-Francorchamps and the World Cup in Milton Keynes, along with podium near misses at Superprestige Ruddervoorde and the past two editions of the Bpost Bank Trofee series, Nys’ performance is still exceptional by many standards.

But for those who have followed Nys’ career, something isn’t right. Confirmation of that came as Nys abandoned the Druivencross race in Overijse on December 7.

Responding to criticism that age could be contributing factor in the 38-year-old’s performance as the new generation of riders take their place in the professional ranks, Nys told Belgian newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen last week“What bothers me most is that the criticism went too far. Especially since those comments often come from people who praised me a month earlier.”

But despite attempting to brush the slump off, Nys has acknowledged something is different. “When I want to accelerate, I feel that I haven’t got the strength, ” Nys explained, adding that he felt he is performing at only fifty percent of his abilities.

Recent blood tests have not pointed to a cause for the performance downturn according to Nys. A break in his race schedule to train and recuperate in Mallorca also appears to have had little effect.

“It makes no sense to speculate,” added van den Bosch, attempting to quell any rumors regarding Nys’ long term plans to return to competition. “We now have to remain calm. This I have never seen him, but we do not panic and take our time.”