Thibau Nys secures first Belgian gold medal at cyclo-cross World Cup 2023
After Friday's bronze medal in the Mixed Relay event, Belgian cycling fans looked forward to the first individual races of this year's cyclo-cross World Cup in Hoogerheide. Thibau Nys managed to win the men's U23 event on Saturday and secured the first Belgian gold medal of the tournament.
With his gold medal, Nys follows in the footsteps of his father Sven Nys, who won the U23 World Championships in 1997 and 1998. The 20-year-old was considered the top favourite beforehand: he already crowned himself Junior world champion three years ago and took home the U23 bronze medal in 2022.
"I rode the perfect race with a lot of power in my legs. I didn't expect to win like that," Nys said during an interview after the race. "I wanted this title particularly badly, this is a dream come true and feels great after my hard work and my back problems." He also confirmed that he will take part in the men's elite race next year.
The women's elite race also took place on Saturday. The Dutch cyclist Fem van Empel managed to beat her compatriots Puck Pieterse and Lucinda Brand in front of a home crowd.
The men's elite race will take place on Sunday at 15:00. Belgian Wout Van Aert is considered to be one of the favourites, along with Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel. The British world champion Tom Pidcock will not defend his title in Hoogerheide. He is focusing on the upcoming spring classics of the road cycling season.
© BELGA PHOTO JASPER JACOBS