Where are the boundaries of Thibau Nys? “He’s a sprinter in the legs, but a puncher in the head”


In just 12 days of racing, Thibau Nys has racked up no fewer than 4 victories. His dazzling start to the road season even makes father Sven Nys and coach Paul Van Den Bosch dizzy. Where are the limits of the 21-year-old talent? Sporza Daily asked his trainers.

A stage in the Tour de Romandie, two stages and the overall victory in the Tour of Hungary. And that in just 12 days. Thibau Nys has surprised friend and enemy.

Father Sven Nys is impressed. “We expected him to win a stage. But to finish under pressure on the final day in Hungary and not give up a second is on a different level,” says Nys senior. “That is another step up in his career.”

Thibau Nys is in top form. “He simply pulverized his best values ​​in Hungary,” coach Paul Van Den Bosch agrees. “At the end of a tough race he improves his 5-minute value. He drives 7.5 watts per kilogram, those are the values ​​of the big boys.”

“And these are values ​​that we did not see in training. We did not think that he would achieve that now, but we would in the longer term. We have a plan with Thibau, but the steps he is taking now are much greater than expected .”

However, that plan is not simply thrown in the trash: step by step remains the motto for 21-year-old Nys. “We don’t want to do competitions that he is not ready for yet,” said Van Den Bosch. “I have advocated not putting a Giro on his calendar yet.”

We have a plan with Thibau, but the steps he is taking now are much bigger than expected.

Paul Van Den Bosch

That a step-by-step approach is not a bad choice has already become apparent this winter. Thibau Nys was immediately crowned top favorite after his cyclo-cross victory on the Koppenberg, but then had a difficult period.

“There is even more pressure in the field, because he is following in my footsteps,” father Sven realizes. “He is then quickly compared to me, while he is walking his own path.”

“After his victories in Waterloo and on the Koppenberg, a 5th or 6th place was suddenly no longer good enough. Then it becomes a difficult story.”

“So there is still a lot of work to do on the physical side towards a cyclo-cross season. That is just a learning process with a young rider. There is nothing wrong with that.”

Puncher or sprinter?

So it is a learning process, but which direction does it take? Will Thibau Nys be a sprinter, a puncher or a lap rider?

“He is actually still a sprinter,” coach Van Den Bosch surprises. “With his 5 second value he achieves more than 22 watts per kg body weight. Then you score really high among the top players.”

“That means that he has the legs of a sprinter, but not the head. A sprinter must dare to position himself, to dive into a hole. That is something he cannot and does not dare at the moment.”

Sven Nys sees another problem. “He certainly has the explosiveness to win a sprint. He just lacks some weight to really push himself compared to a Tim Merlier or Fabio Jakobsen. He is just too light for that.”

“I think he will perform much better in a tough match. In a final with a select group there are many more possibilities. That has changed in his profile over the past 12 months.”

Thibau’s profile has changed over the past 12 months.

Sven Nys

Coach Van Den Bosch also sees that Thibau Nys’ profile has changed. “We have known for a long time that he is a puncher,” Van Den Bosch agrees.

“He now has more qualities than last year to control those punching matches. He can position himself well there, because it is much less hectic. He can position himself without much danger and then strike at the right time. “

“So I think he is both a sprinter and a puncher, but I think the difference at the moment is in the head. He is more of a puncher in the head, as he showed in Hungary.”

Does he also have a future as a tour rider? “He should be able to master the week-long stage races,” said Van Den Bosch. “But one without a time trial, because his capabilities are too limited there.”

Choose between the field and the road

With his recent performances, Thibau Nys’ future seems to be on the horizon. Should he then ignore cyclocross?

“We cannot yet say whether he is more of a road cyclist or a cyclo-cross rider,” Van Den Bosch remains cautious. “Aiming for two full-fledged careers is already very difficult.”

“You cannot expect him to get off to an excellent start in the field, continue for an entire season and then start off at the top again on the road. You cannot expect a 21-year-old to maintain a consistent line, such as Mathieu van der Pool.”

Sven Nys also remains cautious about pushing his son in a certain direction. “He has to find an answer to it himself and see where he wants to profile himself,” he says.

“In any case, he indicates that the cross is just as important to him as the road. He knows that cyclo-cross makes him a better road cyclist and vice versa. So he will want to maintain that combination as long as possible, I think.”

Thibau knows that cyclo-cross makes him a better road cyclist and vice versa.

In any case, the successes do not go to the young Nys’ head. “He has confidence and is self-confident,” says Van Den Bosch. “He dares to express ambitions, but they are rarely too ambitious. They are supported by a sufficient sense of reality.”

Yet Thibau Nys can dream. Which races are on his wish list? “I see him pushing boundaries every day,” says father Nys. “I think he would come into his own in the Amstel Gold Race or the Flèche Wallonne with a finish on the Mur de Huy.”

“He also dreams of a good performance in the Tour of Flanders. I think Paris-Roubaix is ​​much less suitable for him. And I certainly don’t see a future as a tour rider: the high mountains are too ambitious and his time trial is a huge challenge.”

“But he does have assets to go for a stage win in a select group. He has already won more than expected and opportunities will also follow in the Tour of Norway and Wallonia.”

So the future looks bright? “I’m enjoying every moment. We’re not going to put too many places on it. We’re just going to let him do his thing and then we’ll see where it ends,” Sven Nys concludes.


The article is in Dutch

Tags: boundaries Thibau Nys Hes sprinter legs puncher


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