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Cyclocross

Sven Nys repeats at CrossVegas

Nys overcomes controversy over early feed, repeats as CrossVegas champ

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Sven Nys (Crelan-Aa Drinks) rode to a repeat victory at CrossVegas, powering away from an elite field on the final lap.

“I wanted to wait until the last two, three laps before the end to do something special,” said Nys. “I felt myself really strong the whole race. … It went like I hoped, and I’m really happy with the victory over here.”

The race was a game of cat-and-mouse, with a large group of riders ebbing and swelling as the attacks came and went throughout the hour-long contest. The course contributed to the negative dynamic, with slow, thick grass, soaked by Tuesday’s rain.

“I tried to get ahead of him before the barriers, but I couldn’t close the gap,” said second-placed Lars van der Haar (Giant). “I didn’t feel good at all.”

“That was just [Nys] riding away,” said Jeremy Powers, who finished third. “He was way stronger. I was good, but I wasn’t great. And he was way stronger. Lars [van der Haar] was trying to close it, and he wasn’t closing it. As soon as he went, it was boom-boom over the barriers and five seconds [gap].”

How it unfolded

Van der Haar took the holeshot when the start light turned green.

Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) moved to front as the field wound around the small start lap. He was followed closely by three Fidea Telenet riders.

Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea) moved to the front after the parade lap.

After the first lap, a large group of 10 had split off the front of the race, including many of the favorites — Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) and Jonathan Page (Fuji/Spy).

However, as the front group’s pace fluctuated, more riders jumped across the gap. Nys pitted after the first lap and a half to take an early feed.

After the race, there was some confusion about the penalty for his early feed. Some speculated that he would be disqualified. However, at the end of the race, officials elected to simply issue a fine to the Crelan-Aa Drinks rider.

“If he would have been disqualified, it wouldn’t have been completely fair,” said van der Haar. “He made a mistake, and the commissaire should have taken him out straight away, because now he influences the whole race. … I don’t want to win like that even.”

Soon the front group swelled to include nearly 30 riders.

Heading into a set of double barriers after two laps, Nys opted to hop rather than run and he quickly got a gap. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) took up the chase.

Thijs Van Amerongen (Telenet Fidea) went across the gap to Nys.

But the move was too early, and the front group grew to 14 riders.

Van Amerongen was next to make a move, soloing off the front as the bunch came through the finish after three laps. Krughoff went to the front to chase, as the Telenet Fidea rider’s gap grew to 10 seconds.

Then, van der Haar jumped clear of the field, attempting to bridge. This excited the chase, and Nys moved up to drive the pace. Van Amerongen’s gap started to fall after one lap away. Gaps started to form in the chase group of eight.

Nys and van der Haar caught the leader with a huge turn of speed, but then they eased up again, and the race’s slinky effect continued. The front group grew to 12 riders.

With four laps to go, Shawn Milne (Boulder Cycle Sport) went to the front, stretching out the front group of 16. Pack racing and the fight for position continued, exacerbated by the course’s slow grass, which was saturated by rain earlier in the week.

With thee laps to go, Adam Craig (Giant) attacked. The group wasn’t about to let him get away, though.

Van Amerongen again went to the front, winding up the pace again.

With two laps left, Powers took to the front to test the waters, pulling a handful of riders off the front of the group. As he tried to ride a small set of stairs, he lost the pole position to Nys.

Then, Powers went again to the front of the eight-rider group.

On the final lap, Nys made his move, again hopping the double barriers. Van der Haar chased hard, alone, followed by a shattered group of four. Powers fought to bring back the Dutch champion, who sat second.

As for Nys, he was home free, riding away with the power and speed he’s known for. Van der Haar held on to second, with Powers in third.

Afterward, Nys explained that he had to negotiate with UCI officials to convince them to fine him, rather than disqualify him for an early feed.

“It was my mistake, I don’t think it was an advantage that I had,” Nys said. “They said it before the start, okay, I didn’t hear it. I apologized after the race. I said, ‘Okay if you do it, then it’s like that … It’s better for the fans if the guy who’s winning the race is also coming to the podium.’” His early feed cost him 1,000 Swiss Francs ($1,067 USD). Drinks are known to be quite expensive in Las Vegas.

Nys seemed happy to be back at CrossVegas, saying, “It should be good for cycling overall [if CrossVegas was] a World Cup. We need to have some promotion for the sport also over here. … It’s a big race, it’s a good organized race. … Maybe the next step is to have a World Cup.”