Beer-throwing fan ends Sven Nys’ Bpost Bank Trofee hopes
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Friday, December 28, 2012

Beer-throwing fan ends Sven Nys’ Bpost Bank Trofee hopes

by Ben Atkins at 12:23 PM EST   comments
Categories: Cyclocross
Belgian champion crashes twice in Loenhout but abandons after storming into the crowd

sven nysThe Azencross in Loenhout was a race to forget for Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) as he lost all hope of winning this season’s Bpost Bank Trofee overall. The Belgian champion started the race - which he has won five times before - just 51 seconds behind World champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in the classification, which is being decided by overall time this season, but a day of crashes and frustration saw him deliberately fail to finish, and lose more than five minutes to his big rival.

Nys had crashed twice in the race, with the second incident seeing him pitched over the advertising banner and into the crowd; it was his anger at a fan, who was persistently throwing beer at him, however, that saw the Kannibaal van Baal lose his temper, and all hope of a result.

On the final lap, as a plastic beer glass struck his front wheel, Nys climbed off and walked over to the crowd; he then ducked under the marker tape and pursued the drunken fan into the field.

“Seven laps in a row that same guy threw beer at me,” Nys explained to the media outside his campervan afterwards, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “In the last lap I was really angry and so I decided to take it up with the supporter.

“I wasn’t frustrated because of my two crashes,” he added, “but the big deficit gave me the luxury of being able to afford to stop. That young guy, I don’t know who he was, tried to run away, but he was too drunk. I asked him what he was thinking; he stammered that he was sorry and tried to apologise, but couldn’t get it out. I think he was very shocked.

“This guy was doing it to me the whole race,” Nys reiterated. “If it had happened once, then I could have let it go and still recovered, but this was no coincidence.

“I’m just trying to do my job and this shows a lack of respect,” Nys explained. “This was just low; throwing beer is just not acceptable. I’m not advocating the banning of alcohol at races, but if you can’t take the beer then you have to ask questions.

“There is no excuse,” he added. “We are not animals.”

Following his two crashes, Nys was more than a minute down on Albert - which meant that the World champion’s overall lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee was up to more than two minutes - but, with three races left in the eight-race series, this was not insurmountable. After his angry encounter with the fan, however, the Belgian champion deliberately failed to finish the final lap and lost five minutes in the overall classification.

With Albert earning 30 bonus seconds - at the intermediate GvA sprint, and at the finish - Nys lost 5’30” to the world champion on the day.

“That is a statement,” Nys explained. “That guy has ensured that, today, I have given up. Without this incident I would have finished the race, and defended my second place in the classification, but after this I can’t defend it any more.”

Nys’ encounter with the crowd was the first for a number of years, but is far from the most spectacular; in Overijse in 2008 his then big rival Bart Wellens was disqualified, and banned for the first month of the following season, for aiming a karate kick at a beer-thrower.

Until relatively recently, some races actually directed their courses through the middle of their big beer tents - causing some riders to get wetter inside than they did on the outside - until this was specifically banned by International Cycling Union (UCI) rules.

Nys has now dropped to fourth in the Bpost Bank Trofee rankings - which he has won a record eight times in its former guise of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee - and now trails Albert by 6’21”. The Belgian champion still has much to race for this season, however, and leads the World Cup and Superprestige classifications, and still retains his seemingly insatiable thirst for victory.

“This classification is gone, but its not the end of the World,” he conceded. “There are still some major races in the days to come; this has no implications for the future.

“I’m obviously not going to spare myself in Baal [his own race, the GP Sven Nys, on January 1st - ed] because I have no chance of winning the final classification.”


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