Showdown at the Superprestige in Hamme-Zogge expected on Sunday between Stybar, Nys, and Albert
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Friday, November 12, 2010

Showdown at the Superprestige in Hamme-Zogge expected on Sunday between Stybar, Nys, and Albert

by Jered Gruber at 1:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
Sven Nys and Niels Albert steadily improving, ready to take on an ailing World Champion, Zdenek Stybar

This weekend's third round of the Superprestige series is shaping up to see a three-way battle for supremacy by the usual suspects. Up to this point in the season, however, there has been little in the way of a battle, as Zdenek Stybar has ruled sovereign over all comers, that is, until last Monday's Koppenbergcross.

A previously sub-par Sven Nys came into his own on the course he loves so much when he took his eighth career victory on the slopes of the famed berg. After that, the Cannibal went on a tear, taking the win a few days later in appalling conditions in Baal, then again yesterday at the Jaarmarktcross in Niel.

Spurred on by his recent success and an apparent return to the form that has made Nys one of the greatest cyclocross racers in history, Nys is ready to go head to head with the year's best racer, World Champion Zdenek Stybar.

"I am close to my absolute best. Everything is great. Even running is easy. I can push a notch higher. Let Zdenek come. He inspires no fear in me," said Nys to Belgian newspapers and quoted in Sporza.

While Nys admits he has no fear of Stybar, the Czech rider has his own problems, and the name Sven Nys is not part of them. The World Champion and winner of eight races so far in the young cross season came up with a hurt back earlier in the week and had to forego a start in the race yesterday in Niel.

"The blockage in my back has been treated with a series of special exercises done to relieve my back. The problems are not completely gone of course, that's impossible, but I will start Sunday. Not starting in Niel was the right decision, because I certainly would have aggravated the injury. Now, I do the necessary exercises and rest…We will do our best to come to Sunday as strong as possible, but it remains to be seen to what extent that will happen. I can just do my best," said Stybar to Sporza.

The winner of both rounds of the Superprestige series and both rounds of the World Cup this year will likely not be at his best this weekend, so the threat from not only Nys, but also 2009 World Champion, Niels Albert, will be even greater. Albert, continues to ascend back to his previous best following an early cross season injury. Albert kept Nys within distance yesterday in Niel, but eventually ended up coming short by just under half a minute. The gap was not too significant, and it's something that Albert takes solace in.

"I'm happy that I've been able to duel with Sven. In the past cross races, the difference was more than a minute. This second place shows a great improvement for me. The progression is there - so I do not see why I should complain," said Albert, once again, to Sporza.

The challenge for the top step of the podium could also possibly see a new face in the mix. Kevin Pauwel's has shown himself as best of the rest so far this season, and even former World Champion, Bart Wellens, is enjoying a return to form capped off with a podium finish behind Sven Nys and Niels Albert yesterday. The extremely muddy conditions expected at Hamme-Zogge tomorrow will certainly favor a solid runner like Wellens.



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