A momentous ride for one of the most promising young riders in cycling
The Baloise Trek Lions men capped a dreary weekend in Waterloo with a blistering performance. Led by Thibau Nys’ first career elite World Cup win, they took four of the top five spots during the final race of Trek CX Cup — held in full, glorious sun.
A week of wind and rain had turned the course into a mudslide. But the sun finally peeked out from the clouds when World Cup racing began on Sunday, and it quickly dried out the track during the women’s race. By the time the men’s race started at 2:15 p.m. CT, the course was in quintessential cyclocross condition — sticky, but rideable for hardy riders — and it was the perfect stage for fireworks.
“It feels unreal to win my first World Cup, one week after taking my first pro victory in cyclocross last week in Beringen,” Nys said after the race. “It’s beyond what I would even dream about. It’s a day I will never forget.”
On Lap 1, Nys got on Eli Iserbyt’s wheel with teammate Pim Ronhaar, quickly establishing what would be the podium trio. On Lap 2, Nys and Ronhaar formed a 1-2 Baloise-Trek spearhead, putting Iserbyt, winner of the last three elite men’s World Cup races held in Waterloo, on his back foot.
Nys made his decisive move on Lap 4, taking a gap on Ronhaar and Iserbyt, the latter of whom had to make a pit stop for a new shoe due to a broken mechanism. Throughout the race, Nys consistently gained time on his rivals on the hardest and most technical sections of the course. He was the only rider who could stay on his bike for the course’s daunting staircase.
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Iserbyt fell to a distant third after the mechanical, but he was able to claw his way ahead of Ronhaar to finish second, 16 seconds behind Nys. Ronhaar finished third at 41 seconds back. He was immediately followed across the line by teammates Joris Nieuwenhuis (fourth, 57 seconds back) and Lars van der Haar (fifth, 1:09 back) for one of the most successful Baloise Trek outings ever.
Nys crossing the finish line and fist-pumping his bike into the air will be the lasting image of this year’s Waterloo World Cup, followed by images of Nys embracing his father Sven, arguably the most famous cyclocross rider of all time, after a momentous victory. Nys became the third youngest elite Cyclocross World Cup winner ever on Sunday at not-quite 21 years old. His best is yet to come.
“To finish it off like this, controlling the race from the beginning after a bad start, and then to ride solo to the line in front of the headquarters of Trek, it’s unbelievable,” Nys said. “I really want to thank Trek for their whole support and making this dream possible. We will try to go on like this and work towards many more victories.”