It wasn’t Zdenek, but Sven Nys who won the first round of the World Cup in the Czech city of Plzen. A shrewd Sven Nys passed our favorite in the closing stages of the race to claim the victory.
The rider with the worst luck of the day was Niels Albert. A cameraman stood in his way at the start and the Belgian champion had no hope of winning. A long chase brought Albert and Francis Mourey up to the chasing group, which was looking to catch the leaders.
After about 30 minutes of racing, Pauwels was gifted the lead from teammate Klaas Vantornout. Zdenek quickly closed the gap and with a strong acceleration, Nys was also able to join them. The three leaders made life difficult for one another. “But nobody was able to get away,” Zdenek said.
“I tried a few times, including when we went into the final lap. It really wasn’t easy to get away here, especially with Kevin in my wheel. He may have been the best today. In the final I moved into the lead. That was important, because whoever is there has the best chance.”
But Nys managed to pass Styby. “I made a beginner’s mistake. Nys dove through a gap that wasn’t more than 20 centimeters. I never should have left so much space. Did I think I had already won? No, because the uphill finish here is really tough.”
The world champion couldn’t keep up and was later also passed by Pauwels. Will he be looking for revenge in Tabor next week? Oh, we’ll see. First I hope to improve my fitness in the coming week. The first big win will hopefully come then.”