Sven Nys recalls the key moment of the race at the press conference. © Mike Albright

File photo of Sven Nys from CrossVegas 2014. Nys has always served as the sport’s biggest ambassador. © Mike Albright

Sven Nys appeared on the Belgian TV talk show Van Gils & Gasten (Van Gils & Guests) last night and spoke about a range of topics including his last race, what the future holds for his son and the chance that we could see Elite Women earn prize money equal to that of the Elite Men. It seems that Nys as cyclocross ambassador is something that won’t end any time soon.

Read a few of the highlights from the interview with Nys, below.

When asked how he felt when he woke up the morning after his last race in Oostmalle, Nys said he “woke up with the feeling now that I dont have to do anything anymore to prove myself.”

One topic that was striking was that of his son, Thibau. Nys was shown a video of Thibau taken at the post-race festivities at Oostmalle. When asked what he thought of his father’s retirement, Thibau, with tears in his eyes, said “I haven’t known him as anything but a racer and now he isn’t one any longer and that is really strange.” Upon seeing this, Nys commented “[t]hat has a bit of an impact on a 14  year old kid.”

Will Thibau follow Sven? “I won’t put any pressure on him to follow in my footsteps. If in a few years he wants to do something completely different I will completely support him,” said Nys, noting that “[m]y father was an electrician. I have also a diploma for electrician.”

Preparing for the final races of the season was challenge for Nys. “The last weeks I barely had time to train with all the good-bye events,” said Nys.

There is of course a Nys movie coming out. On the program they showed a snippet of the movie where Nys and his teammates were on a training camp in Mallorca. Coach Paul van den Bosch calls to tell Nys to ride easy that day, so Nys says yes, gets off the phone and immediately turns to Sven Vanthourenhout and says with a wry smile, “OK, so we ride through the hills,” giving a glimpse at the former racer’s sense of humor.

Nys also mentioned on the show that the UCI had a meeting earlier that day where there was talk of equalizing the prize money between the Elite Women and Elite Men, and that part of the money will come from the Elite Men’s prize purse.  

When news of that broke over social media, other pro riders chimed in in support of the proposed move.

Ryan Trebon commented on Christine Vardaros’ Facebook feed that to him it was “[i]nteresting,” adding that, “[it] seems fair. Seem [sic] like the men are subsidizing the women’s prize purse.” To which Helen Wyman responded, “C1 races in USA are equal already. So this effects Europe not USA. Europe is about start money. Men get paid huge start contracts [and] according to newspaper reports Sven was on 10,000 euros Per race. So therefore any C1 prize money equalization helps the overlooked group of European pro women. We have over 500,000 tv viewers on our live races on sporza with up to 780,000 for Baal. This is the first year of it and represents 75-80% of the established male audience figures. I’m pretty sure the riders deserve to be racing for an equal prize purse Based purely on level of interest.”

British National Champion Niki Harris summed up her opinion in response to the news too. “I hope so! As it should be,” she exclaimed.

Stay tuned for more details. With reporting from Christine Vardaros.