Cyclocross star Sven Nys is set to change teams after spending a decade with the Dutch Rabobank squad. The Belgian will join Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner for three years from January 1, 2009 and is hoping the move will open up opportunities to race on the road in 2010.
"Finally, Sven has chosen the option which he said offered the best opportunities and safeguards with regards to sport, and not the most attractive proposition in financial matters," said Nys’ manager Bob Verbeeck.
The offer from Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, which was one of three options the Belgian considered, came after Filip Meirhaeghe introduced Nys to the team’s management. Nys, who has won the cyclo-cross World Cup on multiple occasions, had also considered staying at Rabobank for yet another year, while his third option was to build his own team around himself.
"It is this offer which has the balance: a three year contract in a Belgian team in which I am able to meet my ambitions in the discipline of cyclo-cross, in combination with a program on the road," Nys said. "After 10 years at Rabobank I am begging for a fresh challenge."
Nys’ is one of the world’s top athletes in the cyclo-cross discipline. Since turning professional in 1998, the 32 year-old has been Belgian cyclo-cross champion on five occasions, and won the world championship in 2005. He has also won the prestigious GvA Trophy five times and the Superprestige cyclo-cross series an impressive eight times.
While Nys will ride a selection of road events in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games before starting his cyclo-cross season this year, he is aiming to start one of his homeland’s biggest road events by 2010.
"2009 is perhaps too early, but from 2010 I am certainly available again for the road," Nys told HLN.be. "I have challenges in my life. One of them is this: the Tour of Flanders, that I could never ride [before] ."
With his future now signed off, Nys can focus on his efforts to become an Olympian in the mountain biking discipline at this year’s Beijing Olympic Games in August. Nys, who has won two Belgian mountain biking championship titles, will contest a number of road events, including the Omloop der Kempenv, and mountain bike races such as the Fort William and Italian World Cup events as he prepares for August’s Games.
"All of these tests are part of the preparation, none of it is an objective in itself," said trainer Paul Van Den Bosch. "The sole aim is to be able to take this experience to Beijing to have a great performance."
Nys will also take to an altitude chamber in the lead up to Beijing, to ensure he’s acclimatized for the event. "Scientific tests show the extent to which heat [coupled with high humidity] can have an impact on the performance of Sven compared to normal conditions," said Van Den Bosch. "At the moment, and in the coming months we will systematically work towards reducing this gap through training and acclimatization to altitude."
Nys will arrive at the Olympic mountain bike track in Beijing, China on August 12, nine days before the elite men’s race.