Louisville Courier Journal-USA TODAY Sports
The World Champion has officially discovered America
In an interview with Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, cyclocross elite men's World Champion and all-round Babe Ruth of CX Sven Nys said he is planning to come to Las Vegas this September to race CrossVegas. The money quote:
The center of gravity lies in the U.S. in the months of September, October, November. Which overlaps with the season here. But the cross in Vegas I'll go try it. Around the cross there is also a bike show and that's interesting for sponsors and manufacturers of here.
So there you go. CrossVegas and Interbike, get ready. Of course, CrossVegas is a grassy crit, and Nys will face a stiff challenge from the locals like 2012 winner Jeremy Powers, who will relish the chance to take on Nys on a course that 100% does not favor the World Champion. The 2011 race was won by Lars van der Haar, so that's another potential challenge, though Young Lars might not detour to the US with a full elite season on his plate. We shall see.
The most interesting tidbit might be Nys' friendly association with Papa Johns' Pizza owner John Schnatter. I'm not a fan of the man, his politics, or his pizza, but obviously plenty of people are (re. the pizza), and Nys suggests that they had an interesting time. Is a sponsorship brewing? Can a Belgian mud-racer become the face of an American pizza chain? Perhaps -- in certain places. Papa John's is currently found in 32 countries, almost none of them in Europe, so if there's a Low Countries expansion plan afoot, Nys would be a pitch-perfect ambassador. From Papa John's perspective. For Nys, he might want to be careful how he trades on his glittering reputation... like, Papa John's had better made a really good pizza if they're to associate with a certifiably Great Guy like Sven. My hunch is that Belgium already has some very good pizza.
Anyway, perhaps all that comes of this is another Sven Nys American Adventure. He seems charmed by his last experience, though I imagine if he went to Inner Mongolia and came home with a Rainbow Jersey, he'd be charmed by his visit. And Las Vegas is... I don't really know what to say. Probably not Sven's cup of tea. But America will be better for this visit, as long as nobody tries to hand up a dollar to him. You hear me, America? DO NOT HAND UP DOLLARS TO SVEN.