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Thibau Nys has been a top rider coming up through the ranks including winning the junior Worlds, above, in 2020 and now he is challenging at the top of the elite ranks (Photo: Toby Watson)

UCI president David Lappartient has launched a bizarre broadside on 21-year-old Thibau Nys, using him as example of how riders should not approach the cyclocross season. Lappartient has also said Nys, and other riders, will be prevented from starting the UCI Cyclocross World Championships if they decide to skip World Cup races, especially if they ride smaller events the same weekend.

However, he made no mention of riders like world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma). Unlike Nys, they have not even started racing yet, and they plan to have very short cyclocross seasons, which will include the World Championships.

Lappartient and UCI chief executive, Peter Van den Abeele, have been angered at the manner some top cyclocross riders have been picking and choosing which races they want to ride. That anger centres on some riders skipping rounds of the World Cup – at times in favour of smaller races – as they try to balance the loads of the cyclocross season.

Nys, a rising star of cyclocross expected to challenge Van der Poel and Van Aert in the years ahead, is skipping today’s round of the World Cup in Dendermonde after recent below par performances.

He was 27th at the Niel round of the Telenet Superprestige Series yesterday and was also well below his best at the Europeans last weekend. Rather than continue to dig his form into a hole, Nys has decided to skip the World Cup today, in a manner many riders – including on the road – manage their seasons.

Nys competes for the Baloise–Trek Lions team during the cyclocross season and for World Tour team Lidl-Trek on the road. He already has a heavy schedule of racing across the two disciplines and, especially because he is so young, is seeking to manage his racing load, and make changes to his schedule at short notice, in order to avoid chronic fatigue.

However, Van den Abeele said “if the World Cup is seen as a toy, then we have a problem”. Lappartient gave an interview to DirectVélo, singling out Nys for criticism and using him to base a warning to all riders.

“Nys had a bad result at the European Cyclocross Championships and says he is tired, but why would you ride in Niel on Saturday? If you’re tired, you don’t ride,” he said, reaching into the rider’s right to manage his fatigue and racing schedule.

“Now Thibau Nys is someone who needs cyclo-cross, but he is not the only one who ignores World Cups. The World Cup is not a ranking from which you can simply choose to your heart’s content.

“If a cyclo-cross rider prefers a national competition while there is a World Cup, he will not participate in the next World Cup and therefore also not the cyclo-cross World Championships. The World Cup is not a competition where you can choose what you want to ride. Everyone just has to participate.”

Lappartient said he accepted riders could manage their racing through the cyclocross season, especially in relation to major races in the US. However, he does not accept the right of a rider to compete in a smaller race in Europe on Saturday, decided they and tired and so then withdraw from a World Cup in Europe the following day.

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