Klaas Vantornout wins his first race of the season
by Robbie Carver
Taking his first win of the season at the final Superprestige race in Middelkerke, Klaas Vantournout (Sunweb-Revor) established a dominating solo lead ahead of the world’s best riders. Though Zdenek Stybar, Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels would all try to reel the Sunweb-Revor rider in, the Belgian proved uncatchable and crossed the line 13 seconds ahead of solo chaser Pauwels. It was also a successful day for Telenet-Fidea, for even though they missed the top podium spot, the team took the next four.
“It’s been a season full of ups and downs, and too many of the latter,” said Vantournout. “Not that I was ever really bad, but the winter was a series of small, unlucky moments. Too many to mention. At many of the races I proved that I had it in me to win, but there was always just one more.”
“Last weekend I felt very good, but there too I had my share of bad luck, but it gave me lots of confidence for today,” he continued.
“I actually went out alone too early today,” he said about his winning move, “but it was purely out of frustration. Stybar slammed into me two or three times in an ugly way. So when I did pass, I pulled through hard in frustration. I immediately hit a huge gap and kept the pace high.”
“My goal for the season was to win a top cyclocross race, and now I succeeded. This makes up for it. I didn’t expect this, which doubles the virtue of the win. Physically and mentally, it’s been a very tough season, I feel it. ”
Though he didn’t even need to show to seal his 10th Superprestige title, Sven Nys didn’t go quietly into the history books, but had a commanding presence in the race before fading on the final lap.
Klaas Vantournout gave fans a preview of the finish today by charging ahead for the holeshot, but it was a streaking Stybar who immediately took the lead and began to apply the pressure on the power-sucking course. On his heels were Kevin Pauwels and Sven Vanthourennout. Nys, a number of riders back, looked as calm as you would expect of a rider who has already sealed his 10th Superprestige title.
Halfway through the first lap, the three leaders had already established a gap which they would keep, off and on, for the first half of the race as a large group of chasers continued to yo-yo behind them.
Ultimately it was Niels Albert, sporting the Belgium National jersey, who took over the chase and began to reel the leaders in, a move which set up a string of attacks by teammates Pauwels and Stybar as the two tried to establish a gap over the rest of the riders. At one point, Pauwels had five seconds over the chasers, but a last minute decision to pit cost him his lead, and once again he had Stybar on his wheel, followed now by Vantournout, Nys and Albert. Behind them, a group of five, led by Tom Meeusen, struggled to make contact.
The Decisive Move
After five laps, the chase and lead groups had connected, ballooning to nine riders, when Klaas Vantournout charged off the front. The move opened an immediate six-second lead over the chasers, led by Stybar. Halfway through the next lap, Vantournout’s lead had risen to 10 seconds, and then 17, despite Stybar’s incredible motor pushing the pace behind.
As Vantournout came across the line with three to go, he had added another handful of seconds to his lead, with Nys and Pauwels taking over the chase alone, ahead of Albert and Stybar another five seconds behind. For a moment it appeared that Nys had the motor to secure second place, if not bridge the gap, but with just under two to go he began to fade, and Pauwels again showed that he is at the top of his game, pulling ahead of the Superprestige champion and taking over the chase in solo fashion. Nys then dropped off the back of Stybar, Wellens and Meeusen. Niels Albert, as well, seemed in difficulty, as he slowed noticeably while riding through the sand pit, allowing a gap he would not recover.
The final podium of the Superprestige; Sven Nys (1), Kevin Pauwels (2) and Zdenek Stybar (3)
Though Pauwels carved back a few seconds, Vantournout was able to hold him off with plenty of time to enjoy his first major win of the season. And with Pauwels finishing strongly while Nys faded in the closing lap, a resounding statement has been made before what will no doubt be a great showdown between the two for the GvA Trofee title next weekend. Pauwels also claimed the second step in the Superprestige series overall, ahead of Stybar.
Bart Wellens was the third finisher on the day, and the former world champion visited the Superprestige podium for the first time this season.
American Jonathan Page moved up from a slow start to claim 14th place. “I started slowly and just kind of stayed the same. I didn’t have great legs. I just didn’t really have a great day; I felt a little flat,” he said. “The course had a lot of turns and was slippery and a lot of people were falling, so my race was basically over by the end of the first lap.”
“It was a hard race,” Page continued. “There was a tailwind on the road, but there wasn’t anywhere else where you could rest. But you couldn’t go too fast, because if you put too much power down you’d skid out in the rear, if you go too fast you could skid out in the front.”
The top three Superprestige Series winners celebrate at the Gala
In the U23 race, Jim Aernouts (Sunweb-Revor) took a solo win ahead of world champion Lars van der Haar (Rabobank), who had a small mechanical on the final lap that forced him to dismount.
After the race, riders attended the Superprestige Gala, where Sven Nys was honored with his 10th Superprestige Title. Check out more photos of the event in the gallery below.
Elite Men Results:
|13||Kenneth VAN COMPERNOLLE||BEL||1:05:45|
|15||Gerben DE KNEGT||NED||1:06:22|
|16||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:06:49|
|22||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:08:23|
|27||Egoitz MURGOITIO REKALDE||ESP|
|28||Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN||NED|
U23 Full Results:
| Pos || Name || Nat || Result |
|2||Lars van der Haar||NED||00:21|
|4||Joeri Adams (Rabo – Giant Offroad Team.)||BEL|
|8||Emiel Dolfsma (Sunweb – Revor)||NED|
|12||David van der Poel||NED|
|21||Tim Merlier (C.t.- Dj.matic-Kortrijk)||BEL||03:41|
|22||Corné Van Kessel||NED||04:28|
|24||Micki Van Empel||NED||04:42|
|26||Floris De Tier||BEL||05:21|
|27||Mathieu Willemyns (Koninklijke Hoboken W.a.c. V.z.w.)||BEL||06:11|
|28||Valentijn Van De Velde (Baboco – Revor Cycling Team)||BEL||06:16|
|29||Pieter Dewitte (Bkcp – Powerplus)||BEL||07:33|
|32||Kevin Neirynck (Jonge Rakkers Vollezele)||BEL|