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"I think the condition is better than Hoogerheide has shown. But I think I needed a rest and I’e ve had one for the last couple of days?

Photo: Feltet.dk

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KEVIN PAUWELS

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TOM MEEUSEN

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WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS - CROSS

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30.01.2016 @ 12:46 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The Belgian Worlds team counts down to Sunday. Sven Nys says there is only one big favorite, Kevin Pauwels eyes three, "Van der Poel, Van Aert and Van der Haar are above the rest. I am maybe a little bit behind."

 

Nys claims to be relaxed. “It is what it is," he told Sporza. "I had expected more from my last two weeks. But if I'm realistic, it is normal that I have not performed well. I have done all the small races and did not focus on training for Hoogerheide. Then you stand at the start and you're just not fresh.”

 

"I think the condition is better than Hoogerheide has shown. But I think I needed a rest and I’e ve had one for the last couple of days."

 

Will Nys sacrifice himself for leader Wout van Aert? "It is only necessary if Wout gets into trouble early in the race and I am nearby. But once you're in the race and I'm riding along in front, then I'm not going to wait for Wout and that makes sense.

 

"I think no one is going to do that except Tim Merlier. It is also what we have agreed which is a good thing. For me, it is about having a good start and get through the chaois in the beginning which is always the hardest. When I start in a good position, I think I can get a good result.”

 

How important is the first lap, according to Nys? "At the Worlds, they crash in the first turn eight times out of ten. You should hope you are not there. It's a fast race and the rain will not change much."

 

In the World Cup, top favorite Mathieu van der Poel already won in Zolder this year.

 

"Then Wout had a bad day, so he'll be closer now. But Van der Poel beat Pauwels and Van der Haar already and is much better now."

 

Will the rider who beats Van der Poel be the world champion? "Absolutely. I think he only has one opponent and that is himself."

 

"I've seen him crack completely at the U23 World Championships in Hoogerheide due to the stress. This can happen again. Last year he had a chance to win, now he has to."

 

Nys will ride his last Worlds. Will the last lap be special? "Only if I think that I have performed well. Otherwise, the 50,000 spectators will not make my day good. But I'm not giving up. I'm just going to give it everything and see where I end up."

 

Kevin Pauwels is the co-leader of the Belgian team. Moreover, he has already won once in Hoogerheide. "I know the course suits me and I'm motivated. The previous week was not so good with my back, but I hope it's better.

 

"There are three true favorites I think: Lars, Wout and Mathieu. Then I am perhaps a little bit behind. I am a podium candidate but these three are above the rest. I think they will go fast immediatelu. I hope that I do well. The start is important. We have seen that in the World Cup.

 

"Yesterday I did a few laps and the course is still very difficult. If you ride calmly, it is easy. But if you go full gas, it is hard.

 

With two wins Pauwels has had a poor season. Does Pauwels feel under pressure to do well here? "Against Mathieu and Lars it is difficult to win. I ride pretty well this season but it is difficult to win."

 

Against these two strong Dutchmen, the Belgians will have to form a solid block. "The atmosphere in the team is the same as before," Pauwels said. "I do not think we'll ride together, but everyone will try to get his chance."

 

Tom Meeusen is a trusted name in the Worlds squad, but he remains modest. "I do not know what my job is. The best would be that Wout and Mathieu are equally matched and that riders like Lars and Pauwels are there for a very long time. Then we already have a possible fifth place for me, it's not going to be easy.

 

"I'm certainly not riding against the leaders. If Wout is 10 seconds behind, I'm never going to be on his wheel.”

 

Laurens Sweeck got his place in the squad with a solid performance. "After Nationals, I have shown that I am among the best seven Belgians and I'm very happy that I can be here. You always train to get in shape, I might have had a dip but I am glad I have come out of it.

"We need to have a good start. We just have to take the course in our hands and I think we have a good chance to get the victory. We must neutralize Van der Poel as good as possible. He was better in the last weeks but if Wout gets that little bit better, he is just as good.

 

"The best does not always win, sometimes you need some luck. With so many spectators, you have to hold back to not go over your limit."

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