By now most cross fans have seen and/or read about the final lap in Gieten on Sunday and several of the theories surrounding the bizarre final few hundred meters that saw Sven Nys nearly steal victory. Regardless of what you have heard, there are a few things that definitely occurred. Towards the end of the final lap, Klass Vantornout attacks Nys and Kevin Pauwels, ultimately gaping Pawuels. A few moments later, Nys bobbles in the mud, allowing Vantornout to hit the finishing straight with a gap.
From there things get interesting and the conspiracy theories begin to rage. Nys appears to realize he’s gaped and sits up, then he changes his mind and/or sees Vantornout slowing and decides to sprint. Vantornout holds on to win by a tire width. The picture above shows a slightly different scenario where Nys realizes he’s gaped begins to wind up his sprint, but takes too long and narrowly misses out on victory. Regardless of what you saw, the fact remains that something goofy appeared to happen.
While we won’t divulge into any specific conspiracy theory, the real question is why would Nys purposely lose this race? If, in fact, he negotiated a deal with Vantornout and/or Pauwels what would Nys have to gain from the situation (beyond monetary compensation)? The answer is quite simple: nothing. However, if you look at it from the perspective of what Nys had to lose, you come to the same conclusion: nothing. Could a deal have been struck between the two men? Possibly. What would the outcome have looked like if Nys won? Here’s what each scenario would have looked like:
Klass Vantornout Wins
Klass Vantornout’s victory on Sunday marks his second win of the season and his biggest victory since he won this race in 2008. After pushing Sven Nys to the limit last weekend in Gavere, Vantornout was finally able to beat the nearly unstoppable Belgian National Champion. The victory also marks a major step forward for the Sunweb-Revor team, which has only won two races this year (Vantornout’s in Kemriscross and Kevin Pauwels in Tabor). The team has come under heavy criticism as of late and the dynamic duo of Vantornout and Pauwels has failed to play out like in previous years.
Unfortunately for Sven Nys, his Superprestige winning streak came to an end on Sunday in Gieten. The Belgian champ seemed to be in complete control of the race despite being the middle of a Sunweb-Revor sandwich. Had Nys not faltered in the mud, or had the finish line been a few more meters down the road, he most certainly would have one. After all, he showed everyone in Gavere that he can out-sprint Vantornout. More importantly though, Nys’ gap on Albert grew to eleven points, nearly locking up the overall for Nys.
Sven Nys Wins
Sven Nys is the man to beat after another impressive sprint victory in Gieten on Sunday. For the second straight week Nys out sprinted Klass Vantornout in a spectacular finish that saw the duo drop Vantornout’s teammate Kevin Pauwels in the final few hundred meters. The Sunweb-Revor duo once again failed to get rid of Nys, who has won every Superprestige race this season. As a result, Nys stretches his lead to 12 points over Niels Albert, nearly locking up the overall.
The heavy criticism of the Sunweb-Revor team will continue this week as the team has only picked up two victories this season (Vantornout’s in Kemriscross and Pauwels in Tabor) and has failed to deploy the team tactics that have made them so successful in the past. If Albert can’t beat Nys and Pauwels and Vantornout can’t beat him, the real question is who can?
There you have it. Either one of those endings makes for a great story. However, Vantornout winning changes almost everything for him and his team. Win or lose, Nys remains in control of the Superprestige series. What really happened? We may never know. Nys may have started his sprint too late, or maybe he struck a deal in a race who’s outcome didn’t really matter for a favor down the road. For now, congratulations to Vantornout on a hard fought victory.
One last note: at this level of the sport it is not uncommon for riders to simply give up in the sprint. Time and time again, you’ll see riders sprint for a few meters and realize they just don’t have it. So to see Nys give up is not surprising. To see him resprint, well that’s the whole reason for this article.