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Cyclo-Cross World Cup #5 - CDM

Igorre, Spain, December 7, 2008

Nys looks to consolidate World Cup lead

By Peter Hymas

Belgian Champ Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner)
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The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup presented by Safety Jogger leaves behind the sand dunes of Koksijde and travels south to Igorre, Spain for the fifth round of the nine-race series. Only the Elite Men will battle for World Cup supremacy in northern Spain and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), World Cup leader and UCI points leader, hopes to make it three victories in a row at Igorre to put distance between himself and the trio of Fidea Cycling Team riders who trail Nys in the overall standings.

While Nys hasn't been piling up World Cup victories as in previous years, he's been very consistent through the first four rounds with a victory at Kalmthout, two additional podium appearances and a fourth place as his worst placing so far. Nys took over the World Cup lead at the previous weekend's race in Koksijde, Belgium through the combination of a close 2nd place finish behind Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) and the absence of previous World Cup leader Niels Albert, whose ruptured spleen suffered at the Gavere Superprestige race has ended his season.

Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) looks to avenge a disappointing second place finish to Nys at the previous year's World Cup in Igorre due to an untimely mechanical suffered on the final lap. Wellens's rear derailleur snapped off forcing the Belgian to shoulder his bike until he reached the pit giving Nys a comfortable margin of victory. The thick mud responsible for Wellens's plus many other riders' mechanicals last year is expected to once again be a factor on Sunday with steady showers affecting the race venue approximately 20km from Bilbao. Wellens has yet to podium at a World Cup race this season but the Belgian has been showing improving form lately and will have ample motivation to perform well in Igorre.

Czech national champion Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) sits 2nd overall in the World Cup standings and has appeared twice on the podium in this year's series. However, despite possessing a powerful physique which should provide ample horsepower on a slow, muddy circuit, Stybar's worst showings have been in muddy venues this season as well as last year's Igorre World Cup.

World champion Lars Boom (Rabobank) will return to the World Cup series after sitting out the Koksijde round in order to fully recover from a urinary tract infection. Boom has plenty of ground to make up in the overall World Cup standings and the Dutch rider will look to rebound to the form which carried him to a convincing victory in the third World Cup event at Pijnacker, Netherlands.

Erwin Vervecken, winner at the previous weekend's Koksijde World Cup for a record fifth time, looks to continue on Sunday where he left off in Belgium. The former world champion's form has been in question this season, Vervecken was even left off of the start list for Belgium at the Pijnacker World Cup race, but his victory at Koksijde shows he's still a rider not to be taken lightly.

Perhaps a dark horse for Sunday could be French champion Francis Mourey (Franšaise des Jeux), also a victim of the mud last year at the Igorre World Cup. Mourey held a 30 second lead late in the race before the muddy parcours claimed his rear derailleur. An extended run to the pit ultimately forced Mourey back to a seventh place finish.