Sven Nys’ mechanic in tears after Azencross final lap incident
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sven Nys’ mechanic in tears after Azencross final lap incident

by Ben Atkins at 12:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tech News, Cyclocross
Fall in the pits costing Belgian champion chance of victory is just the latest in a line of catastrophes

sven nysSven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) was poised to sprint for victory with Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) in yesterday’s Azencross in Loenhout, Belgium. The Belgian champion came down spectacularly in the pit area though, just as he was exchanging bikes, and the 24-year-old took an uncontested victory.

The second place for Nys, instead of the victory, means that he is now 4 points, instead of just one, behind competition leader Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) in the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee rankings.

Nys may well be able to make up those three points in Saturday’s GP Sven Nys, in his hometown of Baal. More importantly though, the incident was yet another final lap catastrophe that has cost the Kannibaal a chance of victory.

The final lap change was a pre-arranged move, according to Nys. “It was agreed upon in advance,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, “if there were two of us heading to the line then I would switch in the final lap, with tyres harder for the sprint. I also felt ready for the sprint, I had good reserves, and I was actually pretty sure that I would win.

And then something happens,” he added, “it’s a street without end…”

What actually happened was that Nys, who was one on one with Albert at the time and just a few hundred metres from the finish, came into the pit area fast. Despite the bike change being almost second nature to the team that has been working together for almost 15 years, Nys stayed on his bike a little longer than usual and his mechanic swept the old bike away while the Belgian champion was clipped in to his pedal.

Fons Wouters the mechanic responsible for the incident, was in tears after the race. “What do you want me to say?” he said to Het Nieuwsblad. “Looking back it is easy to ask questions, but if we did the whole thing over again it wouldn’t happen.

“So for one reason,” he shrugged, “ we’re just in the corner where the blows fall. Lady Luck is not on our side right now.”

In the mud of the Jaarmaarktcross in Niel on November 11th, Nys ran into the pits to find that there was nobody there to hand him his new bike; a mechanic wearing a Sunweb-Revor cap actually had to go fetch and him one. Luckily, on that occasion, Nys managed to hold on to take the victory.

A more serious incident occurred in Gieten, Netherlands a few weeks later. Nys was approaching the finish line with Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), and Radomir Simunek and Dieter Vanthourenhout (both BKCP-Powerplus), when his left pedal became detached; only the Belgian’s handling skill prevented a hard crash. An official investigation into the incident by the Landbouwkrediet team and technical sponsor Shimano blamed Nys’ personal mechanic: Wouters.

It grows, that nervousness," explained Wouters. "Like a mushroom; and the misery is always from top to bottom. Take that pedal incident: I found the statement by Shimano was easy, ‘It's the fault of the mechanic, period.’ That eats away, though. Especially because for fifteen years up to then, when it all went well, no bells sounded.”

Nys also lost out to Albert in Monday’s Superprestige race in Diegem after his chain unshipped on the final lap. At the time Nys blamed his ‘materiaal’, which was the Shimano Di2 electronic group, for the failure.  He questioned whether it could cope with racing in snow, and citing the fact that Lars Boom (Rabobank) had also suffered chain drops in his World Cup win in Zolder that day before. What Nys failed to take into account there though, was that Albert himself was also using Di2, and has consistently done so for the last two seasons, without suffering similar incident.

Whether the fault of his equipment, his staff, or just plain bad luck, the final lap incident is becoming a big part of Sven Nys’ season.


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