Feature – Nys: MK could host Worlds


Sven Nys “Milton Keynes could host the World Championships” – interview with Gordon Wiseman

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Feature – Nys: MK could host Worlds

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Sven made a lot of young riders happy today as they got to ride alongside the legend during practice

So impressed was Belgium’s Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) at the end of this afternoon’s two hour training session around the venue for this weekend’s third round of the UCI’s World Cup cyclo-cross series, that he immediately declared “Definitely, this is a venue where you can host the World Championships”.

And coming from one of the sport’s most decorated riders, two World Championships and six outright wins in the season long World Cup just for starters, that is praise indeed and will no doubt put huge smiles on the faces of race organisers Simon Burney and MK Council’s Richard Duffill.

Although to see the sometimes strain expressions on their – still smiling – faces as they raced to finish setting up the circuit at Milton Keynes Campbell Park this afternoon, perhaps at this point in time they just want to get to a successful conclusion to the weekend’s World Cup/National Trophy double-header!

It’s been interesting to watch the layout of the 2.6km circuit develop over recent weeks, from initially skim cut grass to outline the circuit to watching all the fencing, marquees and race infrastructure start to fall into place but the steady progress to where we are today, a fully functioning cyclo-cross course, demonstrates the sheer scale of the undertaking that Duffill and Burney took on at the start of the year.

In the last week, a fair amount of rain has fallen in Milton Keynes and that means only one thing for cyclo-cross aficionados – Mud! And lots of it!


So what were the first impressions of the sport’s (still) number one rider?

VeloUK: Welcome to Milton Keynes Sven. The city is known throughout the country as being the home of roundabouts and concrete cows. What have you made of the city and this brand new cyclo-cross circuit?

Nys (laughing) – “I didn’t know about the concrete cows! Well, definitely this is a venue where you can hold the World Championships. You need to have the experience of holding a few World Cup races to know what cyclo-cross is really about but this race course, it really is of the highest level. It has everything to have an exciting and hard race, where you need to have a lot of skills. Yeah, I’m really happy they decided to bring the World Cup over here, it’s perfect”.

VeloUK: Is it good because it’s expanding the market for the sport or is it good because of the venue itself?
Nys – “Both. When people come to this venue, they can see 80-85% of the track during the whole hour of the race and that’s good to promote our sport. A big problem in mountain bike racing, is that sometimes spectators only see the riders a few times in the hour but here because you can see so much of the track, you can see so much more of the riders”.

“It’s a hard course and well spread out in the Park where you can have a fun but hard cyclo-cross race. So I think that people are going to see something special and that’s what we need to have to promote our sport over here”.


VeloUK was watching Nys during the training session, the first time he and his fellow competitors had a chance to ride the full circuit in near to race conditions and it was his attention to detail, practicing the same corner up to ten or twelve times as he tried to determine the best line to take that caught the eye.

This was especially evident on the first corner at the end of the start-finish straight where, in the Men’s race, nearly 70 competitors will sprint to the end of the freshly laid tarmac strip to be faced with an instant transmission into a nearly 90 degree downhill, negative camber, right hand corner onto grass, or mud as the case will be!

VeloUK: “You were practicing the first corner, riding it, getting off, walking back, staring at the track, re-mounting your bike and trying the corner again. And again. And again.
Nys – “Well yes. You have to learn corners like that, learn what line to take so you can know where it’s possible to pass a rider, the inner or outer line? I was asking myself ‘can you stay on your bike’?, ‘which is the pressure you’ll need in the tyres’?, ‘where will you need to get off and run?’, ‘where will it be quicker to run?’, lots of things like that. We changed things on the bike to see if I can stay on my bike or not”.

“That creates something special in cyclo-cross, when you watch the race on TV, people will be asking ‘wow, will he get off this time and run or not?’ and that’s what I was trying to find out on this circuit when I was training today”.

VeloUK: Were you paying that much attention to just that first corner or other parts of the circuit as well?
Nys – “There were some other places I was practicing as well but not as much as that corner because at the start of the race, there may be some crashes there and you need to stay alert. It can be dangerous at the start of the race but you can also pass some riders and so it’s important that, yes, at that first corner I have some idea of what I have to do”.


VeloUK: “Did you practice the last corner, for when you’re hoping to come across the finishing line as the winner with your arms in the air?”
Nys (laughing) – “No, that’s something I don’t need to train for as I’ve won a lot and on this course, it will be the fastest and the strongest whose going to win and that’s what I have to train to be!”

VeloUK: “How much have you been looking forward to this weekend and this UK-based round of the World Cup?”
Nys “I’ve very much been looking to this weekend. Last week I had a bad race with some illness and I’m hoping I can find a good level again, have some good legs tomorrow in the race”.

“This will be an exciting race weekend. It’s the first time I’ve raced cyclo-cross in the UK. I’ve done some mountain bike races over here but not cyclo-cross and it’s already a good venue so I’m really happy to be here”.


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