Sven Nys: “Cyclocross must not lose its charm”
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Sven Nys: “Cyclocross must not lose its charm”

by Ben Atkins at 4:37 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 

One day on and Sven Nys is still concerned about the incident in the Belgian Championships that saw big rival Niels Albert brought down by a spectator. The World Champion sustained a broken rib, which could compromise the remainder of his season, including the defence of his rainbow jersey at the end of this month. Nys is perhaps still concerned because at the time it was assumed that the spectator concerned was a fan of his, although this has been denied by the man who claimed it was an accident.

Albert has been on the receiving end of a good deal of abuse from fans this season – many of them fans of Nys. This was the first time however that there has been any physical contact.

"It was an exciting championship race and it’s a shame that my performance is what is put to one side by the sports news," said Nys of his seventh Belgian title in Het Nieuwsblad.

Despite the seriousness of the incident, such things are rare in cyclocross, and cycling in general, claimed the Belgian champion. "Actually there is no problem today, I remember Eddy Merckx in the Tour was also a hit by a supporter,” said Nys, referring to the incident in the 1975 Tour de France when Merckx was punched in the kidney area by a fan on the side of the road. The incident, on the climb of the Puy de Dôme, almost certainly affected Merckx’s bid for what would have been a record breaking sixth Tour.

“I once had a dispute when a man on the course stood with the barriers in his hands and attacked me,” he continued. “Perhaps the organizers and stewards could work on putting more space between audience and riders.

“However, the charm of cyclocross must not disappear," he stated.

"All in all there are very few problems in cyclocross when you see how popular cyclocross is,” he concluded. “Still, it’s not nice to hear that riders are spat upon, jeered and are sprayed with beer."

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