Hamme-Zogge, Belgium – Belgian Sven Nys once again proved he is one of the best cyclocross racers in the world. After being the best on the Koppenberg, in Ronse and in Niel, Nys took his fourth win in two weeks time by beating Sunweb-Revor’s Klaas Vantornout in a sprint finish. BKCP-Powerplus captain Niels Albert completed the podium. Telenet-Fidea’s Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters rounded off the top five. Jonathan Page, fourth in Dottignies a day ago, finished in 19th, over five minutes down on the winner, while Canadian Craig Richey finished 28th in the first Belgian cyclocross of his career.
Jonathan Page had the best start of all, followed by the Sunweb riders Klaas Vantornout and Sven Vanthourenhout, who wanted to do well for their boss and organizer of the race, Jurgen Mettepenningen. But Page hit the pits on the first trip through, a stop that left him in the middle of the field battling for a top 20.
Due to the heavy showers the past days, the race looked more like a “cross-country run.” In the second lap Klaas Vantornout took the lead followed by teammate Vanthourenhout and Rabo-Giant Offroad rider Bart Aernouts. Sven Nys, Niels Albert and world champion Zdenek Stybar didn’t have the best starts, but were moving up very quickly. The two Belgians made it to the front in the fourth of seven laps, with the world champion struggling in the mud. Stybar, who still had some problems with his back, which previously prevented him from starting in Niel on Thursday, finished sixth.
Over halfway through the race, Nys took the lead and kept the pressure on his rivals. Only Vantornout and Albert were able to follow. In the fifth lap Nys was the only who opted to skip the pits, which allowed him to open a small gap, but Niels Albert didn’t give up and closed the distance with Vantornout on his wheel.
Turning into the final lap the three were still together and looking for this prestigious win. On the long “walking” section on the course, Vantornout attacked knowing that running doesn’t rate amongst the best skills of the Belgian champion. Though Albert dropped off, Nys didn’t fold and, in the final part of the lap on the more passable sections, Nys took advantage of his technical skills to create a small gap on Vantornout. Vantornout got some hope again for the win when Nys faltered in the sandpit, but his lead was big enough to hang on with a four-second lead over Vantornout. Albert came in as third at 40 seconds.
“I am in a good period and want to take advantage of it to win as much as possible,” said Nys afterwards. “At the moment, I even succeed in races that don’t suit me that well. Long running sections are not my kind of thing. Because of that I had a slow start. I wanted to see how it went in the first lap and noticed that I was not much behind the leaders. In the passable parts, which suit me better, I bridged up to the front, and on the same parts I kept the pressure on my rivals for the win.”
Nys continued, “In the final lap I had a good answer to the expected acceleration of Vantornout during the running sections. On the stairs I took the lead to attack on the final trip through the pit. In the sandpit I faltered, but entering the asphalt section towards the finish I still had a few meters advantage on Klaas.”
Thanks to his win Sven Nys now takes over the lead in the Superprestige series from world champion Zdenek Stybar. Stybar will hold second with Bart Wellens in third. The fourth race of the Superprestige is in Asper-Gavere next Sunday.
With Gavere and Gieten, the next races for the Superprestige, Nys gets two more races which suit him very well to defend or extend his lead. “Everyone knows that I want to win my 10th overall Superprestige, but I’m sure the others don’t want to make it too easy for me.”
Klaas Vantornout, for his part, said he did everything he could to distance the Belgian champ, but it wasn’t enough. “From the beginning I had a good feeling,” he told Cyclocross Magazine. On the first lap I had 15 seconds, before Stybar. It was very hard today, very heavy, very muddy, and then finding your own tempo is very important, that was good for me. I am a very good runner. And I love the mud, that’s cyclocross! On the last lap I was running very fast, but after me was Sven Nys, and he was only one meter behind me. He was very strong.”
Jonathan Page told Cyclocross Magazine that, though he is recovering from the back injury that he suffered at the Plzen World Cup, he still hadn’t quite found his legs. “I’m still not in great shape yet,” he said, explaining that he was further limited after a hard effort for a fourth place finish yesterday in Dottingnies.
Canadian Craig, meanwhile, said that the conditions reminded him of his home in British Columbia. ”It was really muddy,” he said. “There’s not really any other way to describe it. It’s either pavement or mud.”
Craig said that despite the challenging conditions, he enjoyed the trip around the packed course. ”It’s crazy how many people there are lining the sides the whole time,” he explained. “And it’s neat having lots of little kids here. Racing in North America there aren’t many kids, but here the families are out and the kids are just going crazy, which is pretty neat. I’d have liked to have been a little further up, but with all this running, I guess it was [a good result.]”
Belgian Jim Aernouts (BKCP-Powerplus) won the third race of the U23 Superprestige series in Hamme-Zogge. The Belgian Champion bested Sunweb-Revor’s Stef Boden and Vinnie Braet. French Champion Mathieu Boulo and Joeri Adams finished in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Sunweb-Revor’s Tijmen Eising had the best start in the race organized by his team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen. In the mud and water that saturated the course Eising created a maximum gap of twenty seconds on a chasing group that included Vincent Baestaens, Wietse Bosmans, Jim Aernouts, Sven Beelen, Stef Boden and Lars van der Haar.
But Eising couldn’t hold his lead and with four laps to go he was caught and a new leading group of eight riders was formed. With less than three laps to go Jim Aernouts, Vinnie Braet and Stef Boden got rid of their compatriots battling for the win. Braet was the first one to drop off and in the final lap Boden also couldn’t handle the pace of the Belgian Champion. France’s Mathieu Boulo bounced back from a poor start to a solid finish in fourth place, just a few seconds off the podium.
“Last week I was not satisfied with my result at the European Championships”, said Aernouts. “I had some bad luck there in the first lap and wanted to show here in Hamme-Zogge that I am still in good form. Luckily I succeeded in that. I expected Stef Boden in this circumstances. He is a specialist in running and got a course that suited him well. A few years ago in the infamous muddy Belgian Championships (2007, Juniors) here in Hamme-Zogge I had to get rid off him as well.”
Aernouts, who won also the first race of the Superprestige in Ruddervoorde, extends his lead in the overall ranking. European Champion Lars van der Haar is second and Joeri Adams third.
Godrie Surprises in the Juniors Race
Dutchman Stan Godrie was the surprise winner of the Juniors. Godrie attacked during the second lap and left his rivals Laurens Sweeck, Diether Sweeck and compatriot Douwe Verberne behind to take his first win of the season. Dieter Sweeck finished second and Douwe Verberne third. Laurens Sweeck (4th) retains the lead in the Superprestige series for Juniors.
“Finally a win!” said a delighted Godrie. “It’s going well for a while, a few days ago I was also second in Niel. The Superprestige series isn’t a real goal after my bad day in Zonhoven. I will take it race by race and will see how it goes.”
Dieter Sweeck was more than satisfied with his second place. “After my bad luck in Ruddervoorde and Zonhoven this really pleases me. I couldn’t handle the pace of Stan (Godrie) when he attacked. From than on it went well and I was able to get rid of Douwe (Verberne) and my brother Laurens.”
In the beginners race the win went to Mathieu van der Poel. Martijn Budding finished as second and Nicolas Cleppe as third.