Thibau Nys (Baloise Trek Lions) threw caution to the wind at round 1 of the Superprestige Cyclocross series and crashed out of contention for the race win on the final lap after overshooting a corner.
Nys risked it all for the win as he divebombed up the inside of eventual race-winner Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal) in the last minute of racing in Overijse, but came in with too much speed and lost his front wheel and with it, the race as he rolled in for fourth.
The Belgian had chased for most of the eight-lap race after an off-camera crash saw him lose around 20 positions on the second lap. The race culminated in Nys versus Iserbyt on the final lap after the former made the catch, but Iserbyt managed to avoid coming down with Nys and got going again before his teammate Michael Vanthourenhout could catch him on the line.
“I actually wanted to pass one bend earlier, but Eli [Iserbyt] kept the door firmly closed. Then it was all on that descent,” said Nys immediately after the race.
“I had chosen the perfect line there every lap, but It was really dark there in the forest and I couldn't see much through my glasses. I thought I'd throw it up the inside, and uh… I took too much risk.”
Nys’ father, the cyclocross legend Sven Nys, highlighted the highs and lows of the off-road discipline, punching the air as his son took the lead, milliseconds before the disappointment came with Nys junior missing out on his third successive win in 2023 thanks to the crash.
It wasn’t all bad for Nys at the finish, satisfied by his comeback from the rear of the pack and showing how mature he is alongside how well he is performing at just 20 years old, well above the typical timeline of an under-23 cross rider.
“I had actually already won my race when I came back,” said Nys “I am very satisfied with that. I didn't expect to be this good today either. I felt really bad during the recon.
“In the second lap, my pedal got stuck behind a pole and I was catapulted which put me around 25 places back. I then picked everyone up one by one with a perfect pace and was able to get back to the front.
“The fact that I could have won the race is the most important thing for me. I enjoyed myself.”
Nys is a star in the making across disciplines, already a cyclocross World Champion at junior and U23 level. He also took his first elite-level World Cup win at the opening round in Waterloo earlier this month after an impressive road season.
Professional wins at the Tour of Norway and Grosser Preis des Kantons Aargau were his first on the road with Lidl-Trek, with second place on a stage of the WorldTour-level Tour de Romandie also a highlight for 2023.
Sven Nys was clear on his desire not for his son to be weighed up to the multi-discipline stars of Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (jumbo-Visma), but the 20-year-old will struggle to avoid the comparisons given his talents on his cross and road bike.
Van der Poel and Van Aert were joined in an exclusive club of riders to have won an elite men’s cyclocross World Cup before the age of 21 by Nys after his triumph in Waterloo and went on to win eight CX world titles between them, alongside most of road cycling’s most prestigious races.
Nys should be headlining the majority of men’s cyclocross races for the remainder of the 2023/24 season, but he likely won’t face Van Aert, Van der Poel or the other member of the disciplines ‘big three’, Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) until December when they begin their off-road seasons.
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