Sven Nys is the undisputed king of Superprestige
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Sven Nys is the undisputed king of Superprestige

by Ben Atkins at 1:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross
 
Kannibaal van Baal’s Hoogstraten victory gives “Mister Superprestige” incredible tenth series win

sven nysWith his win in yesterday’s race in Hoogstraten, Belgium, close to the border with the Netherlands, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) secured overall victory in the Superprestige series for an incredible tenth time. Since turning professional with Rabobank in 1998, the Kannibaal van Baal has taken the season-long competition every year but three in his one-man show of domination of the elite cyclocross scene.

The only other riders to win the Superprestige since Nys has turned pro were Richard Groenendaal (2000/01), Bart Wellens (2003/04) and Zdenek Stybar (2009/10). Since the series started in the 1982/83 season the next best record in the series is held by Dutchman Hennie Stamsnijder with four wins.

Sunday’s Hoogstraten victory also takes Nys’ race-victory tally to 54, more than twice the number of the next best rider, ten-time Belgian and four-time World champion Roland Liboton. Ironically, those two are the only two records that Nys will not own at the end of his career; Liboton holds the Belgian record, but the record for World titles is held by Eric De Vlaeminck with seven. Nys currently has just one elite rainbow jersey to his name.

In his 13-year career so far, Nys has also taken six World Cups (although it would be seven if it was awarded in 2007/08), seven Gazet van Antwerpen Trofees (and he has a chance for an eighth this season), and seven Belgian championships, but it is his absolute mastery of the Superprestige series that sums up Nys’ domination of the sport the best.

While Nys, who is now 34 years old, is far less of a Kannibaal than he was at his peak in the middle of the last decade – he has just 13 victories so far this season, compared with 30 in 2006/07 and 27 in 2005/06, and for the first time in his career has not won a World Cup race – his latest Superprestige, and position as World number one, owes as much to consistency as victories alone.

While many of Nys’ rivals have beaten him in single races, no single rider has been able to sustain things through the season as well as he has. Yesterday’s race in Hoogstraten almost summed up the 2010/11 season as each of his rivals fell by the wayside; Nys was virtually the only top rider not to crash in the muddy, rutted conditions.

“I spent the whole time taking the initiative and, in contrast to my competitors, I hardly made any mistakes on a technical and difficult course,” he said after the race in Het Laatste Nieuws. “Last winter I passed the milestone of fifty Superprestige races, which was already unique; now I’ve got my tenth overall competition.”

While he is not outwardly arrogant, Nys’ modesty does not quite extend to preventing him from realising the unrivalled place that he holds in the history of cyclocross in general, and the Superprestige series in particular.

“If I’m not mistaken Hennie Stamsnijder sits in second place [in the victory rankings] with four,” he said. Ten [wins] will perhaps never be matched and proves that I am the most consistent cyclocross racer over more than a decade.”

While ten Superprestige titles might be a nice round number, Nys has a further three years on his newly signed contract with the Landbouwkrediet team; he doesn’t intend to spend those years just making up the numbers.

“This is not the end of my ambition though,” he said. “My motivation remains intact and next year I will start in Ruddervoorde [the first race in the series – Ed] with the objective of an eleventh title.

“I will stop in 2014, until then I want to win as much as possible; always and everywhere.”

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