Shit happens alright and it seems to be happening a lot for 7-time and reigning Belgian Champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). It happened at the GVA Azencross in Loenhout. On the final lap just as he was getting ready for his sprint against Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), the Cannibal (as he is called in the Belgian press) crashed while doing a bike exchange in the pit.
So what happened exactly? “I asked my mechanic to stay in the last row of the box because the speed is a little bit slower and I can turn there but they stayed in the middle of the box, I don’t know why.” a very calm Nys explained after the race. “My speed was a little bit too high and I was with one feet on my left pedal the moment that he took my bike away and I lost my balance and I crashed.”
Nys got back up quickly but the time lost was enough for Albert to claim victory while Nys showed his obvious disappointment, bowing his head when crossing the line 11 seconds later.
It was not the first time that an issue in the final lap caused him the victory. It happened just two days ago when Nys dropped his chain on the final lap and once again lost to Albert at the Superprestige in Diegem. But this one in Loenhout was more a harder pill to swallow because Nys was feeling good.
“Today more than Diegem because in Diegem I felt that Niels was maybe a little bit too strong but here I felt myself really strong and I think I was really prepared to do a really strong sprint. I took a bike with hard tires so it was for me an important sprint two weeks before the World Championships and it can’t happen because I crashed, it’s a little bit stupid.” Nys said.
And it wasn’t the second time either this year that Nys was hit with bad luck. Halfway through the Koksijde World Cup, he dropped his chain and chased back to finish third. His pedal broke in the final 4-way sprint at Superprestive Gieten at the end of November. Let’s not forget the pit mishap at the Fidea Jaarmarktcross in Niel when with three to go Nys came to get a bike change but his mechanics were not ready and he had to wait. But in this instance, Nys was able to still win.
But Nys is able to stay focused through all the issues. “Because I feel myself strong, because my shape is really high, that’s why I am focused and that’s why I say tomorrow is another day. Shit happens. It happens too much in one week so we’ll see what happens the next week.”
The 34-year old champion showed concern for his long-time mechanics after the race. “The stress is real high and that happened a lot in the last two or three weeks. For them [his mechanics] also everything is high stress level so for them it’s even harder than for me because everybody talks with them, ‘be aware that the chain is good’, ‘the pedal must be good’ and now the crash. It’s not so easy. And everything with [what] Sven Nys is doing is in the newspapers, it’s hard, we’ll see what happens. ”
Stress is mounting on everyone with the upcoming Belgian Championships where Nys wants to defend and then of course the World Championships in Sankt Wendel, Germany.
Nys was happy with his form into the race but was waiting to see what happens at the Sylvestercross the following day. “We are not there because today I crashed again, it’s important that my back is alright. I have tomorrow another race so I must control everything and look that everything in my back is okay.” And then, his hometown race in Baal, the GP Sven Nys part of the GVA Series on January 1st. “We’ll see what happens and that I have the power in Baal and that I don’t crash anymore then I can say that I’m ready for the Championships because my shape is really good for the moment but I don’t win because I have some troubles.”
There was really no plan to sit down with his mechanics to revise the strategy. “They know that they made a mistake so what can I say? It happens and we must look forwards and hope that it doesn’t happen anymore but it’s not easy for them also.”
No bad luck and Nys has three smooth bike exchanges at Sylverstercross where he finished second to World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea). During the race, his head mechanic, Fons Wouters told Sporza that he didn’t sleep well as he was filmed working and doing a bike exchange in the pit. (Watch Sylvestercross report from Sporza)