Sven Nys endured ill fortune in the opening round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Tabor on Sunday, but the Landbouwkrediet rider still showed his quality as he rode to 5th place on the testing Czech circuit.
Nys crossed the line 35 seconds behind the winner Kevin Pauwels but his result was remarkable considering that at one point he trailed the leaders by a minute after breaking his chain at the beginning of the third lap.
Indeed, the Selle Italia-supplied rider had perhaps been the strongest rider in the opening laps, as he set the pace at the front of the pack in his distinctive Belgian champion’s jersey.
But then, disaster struck as his chain snapped. “I was going at full power and then suddenly I was pedalling air,” Nys said. “I was a long way from the transition area, but I kept going.” After changing his bike in the pits area, Nys found himself languishing in 22nd place, but he refused to be discouraged.
“At first I thought that I would be able to join the large chase group behind the leaders and then make one big effort on the last lap,” said Nys. “Once I bridged up to them I was able to continue.”
By the time Nys neared the front of the race, Pauwels had already launched his winning move. Nys still had the legs to finish in 5th place, however, and he proved that he has entered the new cyclo-cross season in excellent condition.
“I had a really good day and I’d like to have battled for victory,” he said. “Still, I had one of my best ever races in Tabor, I just had some bad luck as well. But I feel good.”