This past weekend, Mathieu van der Poel won the eighth and final round of the Superprestige series in Middelkerke. It marked the eighth win (out of eight races) in the series for van der Poel. The only other rider to accomplish the eight for eight sweep was Sven Nys, in the 2006/07 season. The fact that this feat has only be accomplished twice in 37 editions of the Superpestige series, shows just how prestigious it is. We decided to break down both riders undefeated series, as well as their season in general to see how the two match up.
Unfortunately, the races themselves do not match up 100% in terms of venues. Both riders raced Gieten, Ruddervoorde, Gavere, Diegem and Hoogstraten as part of the series. Nys also raced in Hamme-Zooge, Vorselaar and Sint-Michielsgestel. Van der Poel raced in Boom, Zohnhoven and Middelkerke. With that said, we decided to breakdown the margin of victory for each race as well as the overall.
The Superprestige series is based on points (not time), but the correlation between the two riders victories is very interesting. Van der Poel’s closest margin of victory was four seconds in Boom and his largest was 43 seconds in Zonhoven. On the other hand Nys won a sprint finish in Hoogstraten making his closes margin of victory zero seconds. His largest margin was 53 seconds in Hamme-Zooge.
When it comes to the average margin of victory, Nys gets the edge with a margin of 55 seconds. Van der Poel is close with a margin of 46 seconds. Short term memory has many thinking that Van der Poel’s domination has never been seen before, but one could argue that Nys’ was more dominant based on the average margin of victory. The obvious difference in perception is van der Poel’s racing style. With that said, we are giving this one to Nys.
For the 2006/07 season, Nys competed in 39 races, winning 28 of them. This gives him a winning percentage of 72%. While Nys has had more dominant seasons, that winning percentage is still staggering. It should be obvious, but van der Poel’s season was far more dominant than Nys’.
Assuming he competes in both races this weekend (and wins them) van der Poel’s numbers are simply unbelievable. He has won 34 out of 36 races this season. It should be noted that one of those was a DNF after a horrific crash. That gives him a winning percentage of 94%. Van der Poel clearly has the edge here.
In the 2006/07 season, Nys won the GVA Trofee (now DVV) and the World Cup overall. This year, van der Poel won the DVV Trofee and finished third in the World Cup. Both riders lead the UCI rankings as well. Nys appears to have the edge, but when we break it down even further, van der Poel comes out on top.
During both years, the GVA/DVV Trofee featured eight races. Nys was able to win four out of the eight races. That year, the GVA Trofee was based on points, so we are basing our comparison purely on victories. As mentioned earlier, Van der Poel gets the edge as he won seven out of the eight races.
The 2006/07 World Cup consisted of 11 races, with Nys winning seven of them. That equates to a 64% winning percentage. This year, the World Cup was only eight races. Van der Poel won six of them, giving him a 75% winning percentage. More importantly, Van der Poel won every World Cup round he raced (he skipped the first two rounds). Van der Poel clearly has the edge.
After breaking it all down, Nys had the better Superprestige series then Van der Poel. However, when it comes to an overall season, Van der Poel comes out on top. If you’re looking for one last comparison between the two riders, we can look at worlds. Nys finished 11th that year, Van der Poel finished first this year. Was Van der Poel’s season the greatest ever? We can save that for another time…