If a cyclocross racer isn’t at his namesake race, did the race still happen? Apparently so, because even though Sven Nys wasn’t at the start line for “his” event, the race went on unencumbered. The Bpost Bank Trophy Cyclocross Baal, less formally known as the GP Sven Nys, didn’t allow for the best of the best cyclocrossers in the world to have much by way of New Year’s Eve festivities, since racing started early for most. Nys announced early on race morning that due to a bad case of bronchitis, he wouldn’t be racing his GP, and would be preparing for the World Cup in Rome instead. After a winning streak of six wins in a row (11 times in the 13 years that the event has been run), it was a sad day for Nys supporters looking for a good result after a rough day in Diegem on Sunday.
Kevin Pauwels on the way to the win © Bart Hazen
In the women’s race, Katerina Nash proved, again, that she has the legs needed to take the win, snagging the top podium spot ahead of Nikki Harris and Sanne Cant, who were both followed by Helen Wyman. Of the top four, Nash and Wyman have become well-known for spending time earlier in the season (Nash longer than Wyman) in the US, and the results during this week seem to suggest that for the women, traveling to race in the US rather than staying in Europe is a good strategy. American racer Meredith Miller snagged seventh place. Stay tuned for more updates on the women’s race as they come in.
Katerina Nash continues her winning ways © Bart Hazen
In the men’s race, the slick and muddy conditions kept the pack of racers together for the first few corners, as they all slowly navigated the tricky turns, some running as fast as others rode. Zdnek Stybar and Niels Albert established their places at the front. However, it was Martin Zlamalik and Klaas Vantornout who took the early lead. 11 minutes in, Stybar and a few others behind him slipped and fell on the barriers, leaving us at CXM HQ wondering if some of the racers had perhaps, despite the race, indulged a bit the night before.
While Vantornout maintained his position, Stybar, Albert and Kevin Pauwels attacked within 10 minutes, working to establish a gap while avoiding easy-to-make mistakes on the muddy course. With the race nearly at the halfway point, the group connected with Vantornout and began to extend their lead on the rest of the field. Albert and Vantornout began to fall off of the pace, while Stybar and Pauwels powered on. Pauwels repeatedly attacked the Czech rider, establishing a small gap that Stybar couldn’t seem to close, while Albert dropped Vantornout and worked to catch the two racers ahead.
With three to go, Pauwels had established a gap in front of Stybar and Albert, and the chase was on in earnest. With two to go, the order hadn’t shifted, and Pauwels had a large gap on Stybar, who’d developed a 12 second lead on Albert. Behind them, Vantornout worked with Rob Peeters and Thijs Van Amerongen. Peeters bobbled on a ride-up, losing valuable seconds on his group.
As he hit one to go, Pauwels victory was all but assured; his gap over Stybar had stretched to a full minute, and Stybar maintained his 15 second gap on Albert. The podium finished predictably, topped by Pauwels, with Stybar in second and Albert in third. Behind them, Peeters took fourth, followed by Vantornout, Van Amerongen, Bart Wellens, Bart Aernouts, American Jonathan Page and Radomir Simunek rounding out the top 10.
Bart Hazen Photo Galleries:
2012 GvA Baal - Elite Men
|6||Thijs VAN AMERONGEN||NED||1:02:44|
|11||Gerben DE KNEGT||NED||1:03:44|
|16||Twan VAN DEN BRAND||NED||1:04:49|
|26||Tom VAN DEN BOSCH||BEL||1:09:07|
2012 GvA Baal - Elite Women
|6||Anna VAN DER BREGGEN||NED||46:06:00|
|9||Ellen VAN LOY||BEL||47:00:00|
|14||Bianca VAN DEN HOEK||NED||49:39:00|
|17||Kim VAN DE STEENE||BEL||51:10:00|
|21||Stephanie DE CROOCK||BEL|