- Sven Nys had a rough start to the season but turned on the juice for a dominant November, during which he took over the lead in the Superprestige and GvA series from Zdenek Stybar, who would go on to take time off to recover from a nagging injury. Nys was able to hold on to his leads despite an absurd streak of bad luck: a broken pedal, an absent pit mechanic during a bike change, a mechanic-induced crash in the pit, and the flu during the Belgian National Championships. Part of his wins in the Superprestige and GvA series must be attributed to Stybar’s injury-induced absence in parts of November and December, but it’s not as though the rest of the field lacked for talent. Nys further solidified his stranglehold on Belgian ‘cross, and his legacy.
- Zdenek Stybar won the entire beginning of the season with seven consecutive victories. He came back from a midseason injury after ensuring adequate rest and re-training in Mallorca, and proved his mettle by winning the World Championship. No doubt Telenet-Fidea was pleased with his reclaiming of the rainbow stripes in his final year with the team – he’s moving to Quick Step and a road career starting in March.
- Kevin Pauwels had a banner year, starting the season as a regular podium contender and going on to have five wins, 3rd place at the World Championships, and 3rd place in the GvA Trofee. In October, he was the only person chasing Stybar with real hope of catching him.
- Niels Albert missed the start of the season with a knee injury, but came back to dominate the UCI World Cup and win the Belgian National Championships, to boot.
- Tom Meeusen came out as a top-ten racer in his first season as an Elite, scoring a handful of big wins head-to-head with Sven Nys.
- Cyclocross lost when Lars Boom made a full transition to the road. He came back for a few races, including a single World Cup race, which he won in convincing style.
- Francis Mourey took home another French National Championship, and a handful of fourth and fifth place finishes, including fourth at the World Championships. How come he’s not a podium regular in major races? Does he just not have it?
- Klaas Vantornout started the season strongly with a series of podium finishes. It appeared as though he was justifying his team’s faith in him, and that a string of big victories were just around the corner. It took him until February to win a race.
- The Rainbow Stripes. Telenet-Fidea’s World Champion’s jersey for Zdenek Stybar was obscured by logos. You’d think the World Champion’s stripes would be better advertising if they were visible, but apparently Telenet-Fidea disagreed.
- Shimano Di2, which seemed responsible for a number of chain drops at crucial times by top-tier riders including Sven Nys and Lars Boom. Is it not optimized for shifting between the close-ratio chainrings on cyclocross bikes?
Thanks for tuning in to Pave’s 2010/2011 Cyclocross coverage. We’ll be back in September. Till then – keep your chain clean and your tires muddy.