One of my favorite New Year's Day traditions is the GP Sven Nys cyclocross race from Baal. While many other races come and go and pop up on various days on the calendar, the GP Sven Nys is generally always on January 1, the perfect way to ring in the new year.
With it's traditional January 1 date, the GP Sven Nys is sort of the unofficial conclusion to Kerstperiode, the special block of back-to-back races that take place between Christmas and New Year's.
Named in honor of Sven Nys
You know you've arrived when they name the race after you... the legend Sven Nys won this one 12 out of 16 times, while he was still active. American Katie Compton won this one a couple times too during her lengthy career.
Now his son Thibau will try to pickup where father left off. You may have seen this video of Thibau riding the stairs at Baal, skipping the traditional dismount:
Thibau Nys rode the stairs again in Baal. pic.twitter.com/WS5Dz1MMNn— Cyclocross24.com (@cyclocross24) January 1, 2020
Riders to watch in the GP Sven Nys
Pros are wrapping up the Kerstperiode block with lots of racing in their legs. Currently Lars Van der Haar clings to a tiny lead in the X²O Badkamers Trofee over Eli Iserbyt. Iserbyt, however, just announced that he will skip Baal and Koksijde - essentially waving the white flag for the series overall title. That puts Cameron Mason at 1:15 down as the primary challenger for the series.
Looking at the single day alone outside of the overall X²O Badkamers Trofee, GP Sven Nys Baal will feature all of the "big 3" of 'cross: Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, and Tom Pidcock. Together, they own the last 9 world titles!
Also keep an eye out for Zdeněk Štybar in his retirement tour - he's formed a new team for the sole purpose of getting to the 2024 cyclocross World Championship in Tábor, Czech Republic (Czechia - his home country) - and making it the final race of his amazing career.