Rookie cyclocross riders at an amateur race in Chicago got a bit of a shock when former world champion Sven Nys joined them at the start line last weekend. The category 4/5 riders, the entry level for racing bikes in the US, were treated to a lesson in cyclocross.
He tore round the 1.5 mile circuit for a few laps before pulling out and allowing the local riders battle it out for the finish. Wall Street Journal sportswriter, Jason Gay tweeted, “This is like LeBron (basketball star) showing up to a 4th grade pick up game. But it’s awesome.”
A video of Nys tackling the side of a set of steps went viral on cycling social media. Later he gave a demonstration of some of his other cross skills, leaping over and bunny hopping barriers.
“That was really fun,” he said later. “It’s not all about racing. It’s also about having fun and letting people see what cyclocross is all about. I have the technique and I can show them something in the race. You hear the noise of the people – that’s what we need. Racing is fun.”
Nys dominated the sport for the best part of two decades, winning two world championships, seven world cups and over 140 victories in total. He’s regarded as one of the greatest cyclocross racers of all time. You can read about him and find out about the film made of his final year as a pro here.