Nys, wearing a new Crelan – AA Drink jersey, and riding his new Trek Boone cyclocross bike, was clearly motivated for the January 1 race from the start. Instead of his customary conservative stop, Nys wasted little time in moving to the front. Just a minute into the race, Nys took an early lead, and extended it by skipping the first pit, while nearly every racer behind stopped to swap bikes. Mass chaos in the pit ensued behind the top three, and bikes were flying as mechanics struggled to pass bikes around.
The Cannibal from Baal continued to build his lead, flying through the mud while competitors behind him suffered. Wellens in particular appeared to have an early mechanical and was seen running behind the leaders, but not far—the running seemed as fast as the riding in some of the deep, muddy sections.
Behind Nys, Rob Peeters was battling for second with Wasleben in third after two laps. Martin Bina followed close behind, but the top three were separated by just a couple of seconds only two laps in.
Soon, Nys had established a lead only being answered by a solo Peeters, with Tom Meeusen leading the chase.
Racers were pitting each lap, grabbing bikes at shoulder height since the area after the pit was unrideable. Nys’s bright green, black and white Trek with bright green and black handlebar tape seemed painted to draw maximum attention to the new ride.
Behind them, Niels Albert, flexing his biceps while wearing short sleeves, chased, trying to make his way back to the lead group, found himself in a group with Meeusen and Zdenek Stybar, with Thijs Van Amerongen struggling to make contact.
By halfway through the race, first and second seemed all but final, with Nys well ahead of Peeters and the group of three chasing much farther back. However, on such a muddy and technical course, nothing was certain, and the chasers began to run down Peeters, making contact 33 minutes into the race.
As the clock ran down, it was increasingly obvious that the racers were fatigued from the challenging conditions, after spending most of the race fighting the mud on slogging ascents and trying to stay upright on the equally treacherous descents.
The chase group began to break up as the lap cards ran down, with Stybar leading and Peeters chasing seconds behind while Albert struggled to maintain contact. Behind them, Meeusen and Wasleben worked together, but couldn’t make contact. Stybar split from Albert and Peeters and increased his lead over the two on a flat straightaway.
Video: Sven Nys in control at his own GP Sven Nys race:
Nys’s lead was untouchable, with Stybar nearly a minute behind, trailed by Albert and then Peeters. He crossed the line carrying his new bike overhead – a familiar scene from Diegem, only this time with a different bike overhead. Stybar handily came in for second place 47 seconds back, followed by Albert in third and Peeters in fourth and Meeusen farther back in fifth.
US National Champion Jonathan Page started the GP Sven Nys after pulling out of Diegem due to crash injuries suffered at Loenhout, but suffered through the race to snag a top 20 finish in 19th.