Encouragement from Mark Cavendish as Thibau Nys’ road breakthrough gathers pace

Rising Belgian star reveals kind words from 34-time Tour de France stage winner as he surprises himself with overall victory at Tour de Hongrie

Clock09:30, Monday 13th May 2024
Thibau Nys took two stage wins and the overall GC at the recent Tour de Hongrie

© Getty Images

Thibau Nys took two stage wins and the overall GC at the recent Tour de Hongrie

Mark Cavendish did his best to snatch the points classification jersey away from Thibau Nys on the final day of the Tour de Hongrie, but the young Belgian revealed that the veteran Briton had been nothing but supportive in what was a breakthrough moment in his young and highly promising career.

Cavendish, winner of stage 2, infiltrated the day’s breakaway on the final day, mopping up the intermediate sprints to move into the virtual lead of the points classification. However, Nys produced another remarkable climbing display to place fourth on the stage and not only take the points needed to move back in front of Cavendish, but also seal the overall title - his first GC scalp as a pro.

Nys is the son of cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys and, having already established himself in that discipline, is now hitting out on the road. He had an eye-catching debut season last year, but has taken a big step forward in 2024 as he places more of an emphasis on road racing.

The 21-year-old Belgian is expected to ride a stronger calendar this year but his progress can be tracked against last year, when he also rode the Tour de Romandie followed by the Tour de Hongrie, placing runner-up on a stage at each. This year, he won a stage at Romandie and has just won two stages and the overall classification in Hungary.

“I didn't expect that. I did not come to Hungary with this intention. I didn't think it was within my capabilities,” Nys said, according to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.

So fast are his ambitions growing, Nys said he was disappointed initially not to win the final stage as well, but with a vicious climb late on, he impressively marked out attacks from the likes of Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Marc Hirschi (UAE Team Emirates). He was unable to unfurl his characteristic fast finish, but he’d done enough to seal the GC by 12 seconds.

"I was completely on the limit. I was working on the GC. Buchmann would under no circumstances be allowed to pull away," said Nys. "I responded to quite a few attacks. I was completely dead.”

Nys was sharing a peloton with two of his idols, with not only 34-time Tour de France stage winner Cavendish present but also seven-time green jersey winner Peter Sagan. Nys revealed he spoke with both of them, but it was Cavendish who went above and beyond to offer encouragement.

“With Peter Sagan, it was before my first win, it was more about the course. Cavendish was super friendly. He congratulated me three times. It was a very nice meeting,” Nys said.

“I had already raced with Mark, but had never spoken before. I grew up in the middle of his glory years. For me, he is still the greatest sprinter of all time. That's great when he comes to congratulate you. He also took me to the front of the peloton to close things down and start the race. Very nice."

Nys is set to ride the Tour of Norway later this month, followed by the Tour de Suisse in June. With a devastating turn of pace and an ability to survive an ever-increasing range of climbs, he’s a rider in the Sagan mould, who has already generated a great deal of excitement and now looks to be on a trajectory that could take him to the top of the sport before long at all.

“I have no idea where it will take me this year. I am still busy discovering myself. This week I surprised myself, in every way,” Nys said.

“Before this season I hadn't really set a goal for a specific period or race. I try to win races. And indeed, I am very aware that this cannot continue like this. It may also be that I have now won my last race of the season. That's how fast things can go in racing.”

Down to earth as well, then.

Related Content

Link to Tour de Suisse to honour Gino Mäder with KoM prize and memorial ride fundraiser
Gino Mäder died last year after crashing during the Tour de Suisse

Tour de Suisse to honour Gino Mäder with KoM prize and memorial ride fundraiser

Bahrain Victorious rider died in last year's race and organisers keen to pay tribute to the Swiss rider and the #rideforGino foundation in his name

Clock
Link to Peter Sagan officially fails to qualify for Paris Olympics mountain biking
Peter Sagan was riding at the latest round of the Mountain Bike World Cup, but did not race

Peter Sagan officially fails to qualify for Paris Olympics mountain biking

Slovakian’s attempt was curtailed by heart problems earlier in the year

Clock
Link to Jonas Vingegaard and Wout van Aert head to altitude camp, Tour de France on the cards
Wout Van Aert (left) and Jonas Vingegaard (right) have been integral to Visma-Lease a Bike's Tour de France squads for years

Jonas Vingegaard and Wout van Aert head to altitude camp, Tour de France on the cards

Visma-Lease a Bike's recovering stars will both be in Tignes by the end of the week, with Van Aert's participation in the Tour more likely by the day

Clock
Link to Thymen Arensman gained '4 or 5 kilos' during Giro d'Italia, targets future podium
Thymen Arensman spent much of the Giro d'Italia chaperoning his Ineos Grenadiers leader Geraint Thomas around Italy

Thymen Arensman gained '4 or 5 kilos' during Giro d'Italia, targets future podium

Ineos Grenadiers' Dutchman finished sixth for the second year running but points to opening weekend and his weight gain for not cracking top five

Clock
Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox