OVERIJSE, BELGIUM: Falling rain, slick mud, near-freezing temperatures – cyclocross fans today got the best of their sport as the Euro Elite headed to the heart of Flanders for the Druienveldrit Overijse. There was no bad luck today for Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet KDL), who took to the mud like, well, mud takes to a cyclocross bike. The Belgian champion rode a patient early race, working his way up to leader Klaas Vantornout, and then attacked the lanky Sunweb-Revor rider on a slippery, tough incline. Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) had been with Nys moments before the winning move, but slid into the tape after losing his front wheel to the challenging course conditions. Albert recovered from the crash enough to overtake Vantornout for second, but the Kannibaal van Baal was, once again, too strong. American Jonathan Page took 20th.
Sven Nys again proved the strongest in the difficult terrain © Bart Hazen
The Course Claims Its Victims
With the lions of Flanders blowing hard in the wind, the men shot off the line and into mud that shot up thick plumes of brown water. As with yesterday’s race at Scheldecross Antwerpen, BKCP-Powerplus animated the opening moves, with Wietse Bosmans and Radomir Simunek leading the charge and opening up a small gap along with Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink). Van Amerongen then took over at the front, and led for the remainder of the lap. The slippery course quickly caused racers some problems, as a bottle-necking incline saw riders struggling to get traction, and a few falling to the ground. Kevin Pauwels was the most high-profile rider to lose out in this section.
By the start of lap two, a lead group of seven, containing Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Klaas Vantornout and Rob Peeters had formed, with Kevin Pauwels in the chase behind. Vantornout took over duties at the front, stretching the lead group out and putting riders in some difficulty as only t van amergon and Niels Albert were able to stay near the lanky Belgian. Nys, caught at the tail end of the group, had no room to respond and set about overtaking the remaining riders one at a time. By the time he’d cleared them, Vantornout had eight seconds on the Belgian champion.
Partway through lap three, however, Nys caught and passed a flagging Thijs van Amerongen, and pulled himself up to the World Champion’s wheel just as Albert lost control of his bike and slid into a group of spectators, hopping over his own bike and landing on his feet. Albert picked up his bike, but struggled to get going again on the difficult terrain, losing over ten seconds to Vantornout and Nys.
The Selection is Made
As Vantornout and Nys battled at the front, and Albert and van Amerongen chased behind, the fight appeared to have gone from yesterday’s winner Kevin Pauwels, who was off the pace by nearly a minute and was a number of chase groups behind. Pauwels had looked cold and uncomfortable at the start line, and the slippery conditions did not appear to improve his mood. He would ultimately finish two and half minutes behind Nys, in ninth place.
On a long, slippery incline, Nys made his move, grinding up the hill and managing to get just enough traction to separate himself from Vantornout. By the top of the climb, the gap had been made, and Vantornout suddenly found himself equidistant between an explosive Nys and a hard charging Albert trying to make up for lost time. With three laps to go, Albert had caught Vantornout, but had another 13 seconds to claw back if he were to make contact with Nys.
Nys, however, looked as comfortable as if he were on dry pavement, and the slightly more timid Albert, who had now shed Vantornout and chased the Belgian champion on his own, only managed to pull in two seconds by the time he crossed for two to go. The General was enjoying the mud, and it did not appear the World Champion would be able to respond. Indeed, it was not to be: Nys crossed for the final lap with a 15-second gap over the World Champion, and only serious bobble or mechanical looked able to stop him.
And so it was that Sven Nys once again crossed the finish line, hands raised, alone at the front and celebrating yet another impressive win in a long history of victories. Niels Albert held on for second, crossing 28 seconds later, and Klaas Vantornout took third.
Bart Hazen Photo Gallery:
2012 Druivenveldrit Men
|4||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||58:23:00|
|17||Micki VAN EMPEL||NED||1:00:52|
|21||Patrick VAN LEEUWEN||NED||1:02:06|
|24||Dave DE CLEYN||BEL||1:03:09|
|26||Bart DE VOCHT||BEL||1:03:42|
|27||Floris DE TIER||BEL|
|28||Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN||NED|