Simunek Goes the Distance Radomir Simunek Jr. (BKCP-Powerplus) has won the Scheldecross in Antwerp, Belgium. Simunek was the best in the sprint over Sunweb’s Sven Vanthourenhout. Bart Aernouts completed the podium. Lars Boom, Eddy van IJzendoorn, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Bart Wellens, Gerben de Knegt, Niels Albert and Klaas Vantornout filled the top 10. Belgian Champion Sven Nys was part of the break battling for the win in the final lap but had to deal with a gear problem and finished just outside the top 10 in12th. American Jonathan Page rode a solid race finishing in 13th.
Ice and snow specialists Simunek and Sven Vanthourenhout had the fast start alongside the Schelde River in Antwerp, followed by Boom, Vantornout, Dieter Vanthourenhout and Aernouts. Belgian champion Nys and 2009 world champ Albert missed their start and had to chase for a few laps before bridging up to the front.
Dieter Vanthourenhout took control from the second lap, followed by his nephew Sven, Simunek, Boom, Aernouts, Vantornout and Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea). Later Page, Eddy van IJzendoorn, Wellens, Albert and Nys managed to bridge up to the front as well.
About halfway through the race Rabobank riders Aernouts and Boom took over the front of the race. Aernouts pulled through and created a gap on a chasing group with Boom, Nys, Van IJzendoorn, Wellens, Albert, Simunek, Vanthourenhout, Vantornout, Page and a bunch of others. In the meantime Aernouts extended his lead on the chasing group as Boom made it clear that he wouldn’t chase behind his Rabobank teammate.
One lap ahead Nys took the lead of the chasing group, and quickly splintered the group under his efforts, with the gap to Aernouts starting to come down. Nys broke clear together with Boom and Sven Vanthourenhout, and turning into the final lap they chased Aernouts down. Boom dropped off the break due to Nys’ blistering pace, but Simunek was able to rejoin the two Svens in front.
Simunek and Nys changed positions constantly as they tried to shed one another. In one of the turns, they slightly bumped each other and almost crashed. Due to the touch, Nys had a gear problem and was eliminated for the win. Sven Vanthourenhout was the only one able to follow Simunek, but he couldn’t surprise the Czech in the sprint. For Simunek it was his second win of the season – earlier this season he was the best in the memorial race for his father in Tabor.
Simunek: “I am very happy today. I crashed twice, and it was hard to come back to the front. I felt I had a good chance to win, and to round it off it’s beautiful that I’m improving step by step. I hope that this will be my period. The cold and snow is in my favor. I hope that Stybar will return soon because without the World Champion a race isn’t complete. I hope I can beat Zdenek at the Czech National Championships in three weeks.”
Sven Vanthourenhout: “I was riding for the win. During the race I got the feeling that I could win it. Simunek took the last corner perfectly and created a gap which I couldn’t close. I’ll hope to be in top shape towards the Belgian Championships.”
Bart Aernouts: “I got a beautiful chance, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the others. It didn’t go badly, but I didn’t have the legs to stay in front. I did believe I could win the race and was constantly focused, but I wasn’t strong enough at the end. But I am satisfied with my third place.”
Nys didn’t blame Simunek. “I jumped on my bike a little wildly, and due to that my chain dropped off. It’s my own fault too lose the first position. I am satisfied with the feeling, it’s just a pity that it happened on the final lap. Otherwise I would have been very close to the won.” Hanka Kupfernagel solo’s to win
German national champion Hanka Kupfernagel has won the Scheldecross in Antwerpen. World champion Marianne Vos and Belgian champion Sanne Cant completed the international podium. Pavla Havlikova, Nikki Harris, Sabine Spitz, Reza Hormes, Sabrina Stultiens, Ellen van Loy and Gabby Day rounded off the top 10.
One day before round 5 of the World Cup, lots of stars didn’t compete in this race, among them Daphny van den Brand (illness), Sanne van Paassen, Katie Compton and Helen Wyman. however, the race still had three world class riders competing, with Hanka Kupfernagel, home rider Sanne Cant and world champion Marianne Vos, who made her season debut after riding on the track in the past weeks.
Kupfernagel took the initiative from the start and created a gap of over 10 seconds on Cant, Havlikova and Harris by the end of the first lap. Vos, who had to start from the back due to the lack of UCI points, moved up quickly and bridged up to the first chasing group one lap later. Harris and Havlikova couldn’t handle the pace of Vos and Cant, and they dropped off in the battle for second. Cant and Vos switched positions several times but were not able to close in on Kupfernagel.
Kupfernagel took her third international win of the season after Nommay and last week’s race in Wetzikon. Vos won the sprint from Cant for second place, 17 seconds down on Kupfernagel.
CXM contributor Christine Vardaros finished in 15th, six minutes down on the winner.
“This is a beautiful win. I always felt the pressure from Cant and Vos. Luckily I didn’t make many mistakes,” smiled Kupfernagel. “I had a good start on this snowy and thus slippery course. You had to stay focused all the time and be aware for everything. Luckily my bike was good today, last year that was different.”
Vos returned from her trip to Australia, where she competed in the Track World Cup in Melbourne last Thursday. Due to that, she hasn’t trained much on her ’cross bike yet. “Despite the fact that I’ve been all over the world, I have followed cyclocross as much as possible,” said Vos. “I knew how the competition has been going.”
The reigning world and Dutch cyclocross champion was very satisfied with her second place. “The first test has succeeded” evaluated Vos. “I didn’t expect to battle for the podium already, it really surprised me. I deliberately chose Antwerp to get used to riding in the snow. These conditions will certainly have influence on the race development tomorrow at the World Cup in Kalmthout.”
Sanne Cant finally ended up on the podium again after several fourth places. “I missed my start and turned into the field in fourth. The riders in front of me couldn’t handle the pace of Kupfernagel. I tried to bridge up to Hanka together with Vos, but we didn’t succeed.”