SVEN Nys has put the final touches to his preparations for the inaugural European Games mountain bike event that he will race on Saturday (June 13th) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Nys has been training on the dry and dusty course, close to the Caspian Sea, this week in temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius and claimed that he'd lost an amazing three kilos in body weight during one ride.
The Belgian, who has suffered when racing in high temperatures in the past, has been reported as liking the course and if the predicted cooler conditions arrive on Saturday he's aiming for a top ten position. Nys finished fifth in last summer's European Mountain Bike Championship and will start from the fourth row of the grid.
"No opening ceremony for me," tweeted Nys on Friday, "Race in the morning. Eat, train, massage, sleep."
Nys is the reigning Belgian mountain bike champion and had considered continuing his racing career until next summer's Olympics Games in Rio. Thirty-eight-year-old Nys has maintained recently though that he is ruling out an attempt to qualify for Rio, which would have been his third Olympics, and will retire at the end of the 2015-16 cyclocross season.
Nys has taken an interesting new Trek hardtail mountain bike to Baku – one that incorporates an 'Isospeed decoupler' of the kind found on his Trek Boone 'cross bikes. The bike also boasts the new Shimano XTR Di2 1x11 drivetrain.
Love my sport! pic.twitter.com/lEEogpUOxu— Sven Nys (@sven_nys) June 10, 2015
Others in the European Games men's mountain bike race include a number of riders who have all won senior national cyclocross titles: Lukas Flückiger (Switzerland); Marco Aurelio Fontana (Italy); Christian Helmig (Luxembourg); and Marek Konwa (Poland).
Italian 'cross champion Eva Lechner will be one of the favourites for the women's mountain bike event which will be the first medal race in the Games on Saturday ahead of the men's race.
RESULTS UPDATE & RACE VIDEO LINKS
Nys suffers in heat as Swiss dominate
Sven Nys found the weather conditions in Baku not to his liking on Saturday and he finished a disappointing 23rd as Switzerland took all three medals. The winner Nino Shurter was followed home by former Swiss cyclocross champion Lukas Flückiger. Italian 'cross champion Marco Aurelio Fontana finished ninth; Polish 'cross champion Marek Konwa was twelfth; and Luxembourg 'cross champ Christian Helmig was one place ahead of Nys in 22nd.
On the fifth lap of eight, Nys had climbed up to 15th place, but then began losing positions as temperatures reached around 32 degrees Celsius in the shade. Nys told reporters afterwards that he had not regretted going to the Games and tweeted "Completely exhausted! After little more than an hour in this weather my body says stop! What followed was an ordeal! Such a pity!"
In the women's race, Italian 'cross champion Eva Lechner was the early leader but had to settle for fourth place in the end behind Swiss winner Jolanda Neff. The full women's race can be watched here.
The full men's race video can be watched here.