By Andrew Davis
On a clear, brisk day at Ruddervoorde, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) stayed true to his Mr. Superprestige title by taking the win ahead of Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) after the two commandeered the race in the early laps. Echoing last weekend at Kalmthout, the race turned predictable as it looked to come down to a two-up sprint. The only change in the script was Nys’ catching Albert out in the final, technical turns, and opening just enough of a gap to make his surge for the line a solo affair. Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor), unable to hold on to the two champions in the deep sand, nonetheless rode strongly for third, soloing in ahead of Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor), Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus), and Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant), the last of whom was the final rider to be shed by the two champions at the head of the race.
In the women’s race, Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) took an early lead ahead of Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea), Sanne Cant (BOXX), and Sophie De Boer (Telenet-Fidea). Once established, Harris never relinquished her lead, soloing in well ahead of second place De Boer. “I just wanted to go hard from the start,” said Harris. “After one lap I realized I had a gap, so I wanted to keep going. But yeah, it was hard work.”
The U23 race took a similar pattern to the women’s, with Mike Teunissen (Rabobank) taking the early lead and holding it to the end.
Elite Men: Nys and Albert again stand above the rest
The first round of the 2012-13 Superprestige Series kicked off to blue skies and tacky conditions on the twisty and technical Ruddervoorde course. U23 world champion Lars van der Haar, already starting on the front row in his first Elite season, launched off the front for the hole-shot in the dicey, narrow first corner. Tom Meeusen and Kevin Pauwels quickly took to the front in the first lap and created a small group containing Klaas Vantornout and Bart Aernouts. These leaders had a slim gap over a large chase group driven by Albert, Nys and van der Haar, who were a few seconds back going into the second lap.
Albert moved smoothly up the field with Nys in tow, and after closing to the lead group, made a hard acceleration that only Nys and van der Haar could cover. For a short moment it looked as if the youngest talent would spar against the legendary one, but Albert and Nys’ pace through the sand and around the technical parts of the course proved too quick, and van der Haar dropped off the lead.
Pauwels, however, began to show his form as he picked up the young Rabobank rider as he clawed his way back to Nys and Albert a lap later. But the Belgian and World Champions had no intention of making it a four-horse race, and used the long, deep sand section to strip first van der Haar, and then Pauwels, of their chances at the top podium spot. Heading into the sand, Pauwels was less than three seconds behind; by the end of the section, he had lost ten. The gap only continued to grow for the remainder of the race.
As Pauwels made a solo chase behind, Albert and Nys spent the remainder of the race attacking and counter attacking each other, with neither gaining a clear advantage going into the last lap. Recent history has shown that when the pair come together to the line, it is Nys that has the afterburners to take the sprint – would Albert be able to shake him before that happened?
Though Albert did his best, the answer was a resounding no, as Nys, always the tactician, made the move of the race in the technical penultimate corner, opening up just enough of a gap that Albert couldn’t draft as Nys hit the pavement first and accelerated uncontested to the line.
Arm in the air, finger to the sky, Sven Nys opened his account on the 2012/13 Superprestige season, taking his his 56th victory in the series and the first win of what could be his 12th series title.
Albert came in just behind, followed nearly half a minute later by Pauwels, then Klaas Vantornout, Meeusen, Dieter Vanthourenhout, van der Haar, Wellens, and Aernouts.
Bart Hazen Photo Gallery:
1 Sven NYS BEL 1:04:43 2 Niels ALBERT BEL 1:04:43 3 Kevin PAUWELS BEL 1:05:10 4 Klaas VANTORNOUT BEL 1:05:19 5 Tom MEEUSEN BEL 1:05:22 6 Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 1:05:22 7 Lars VAN DER HAAR NED 1:05:22 8 Bart WELLENS BEL 1:05:29 9 Bart AERNOUTS BEL 1:05:43 10 Thijs VAN AMERONGEN NED 1:06:04 11 Rob PEETERS BEL 1:06:37 12 Jim AERNOUTS BEL 1:06:45 13 Julien TARAMARCAZ SUI 1:06:55 14 Martin ZLAMALIK CZE 1:06:55 15 Sven VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 1:07:06 16 Arnaud JOUFFROY FRA 1:07:18 17 Jan DENUWELAERE BEL 1:07:28 18 Niels WUBBEN NED 1:07:28 19 Philipp WALSLEBEN GER 1:07:28 20 Aurelien DUVAL FRA 1:07:35 21 Matthieu BOULO FRA 1:07:35 22 Thijs AL NED 1:07:35 23 Joeri ADAMS BEL 1:07:38 24 Gerben DE KNEGT NED 1:07:42 25 Enrico FRANZOI ITA 1:08:02 26 Kenneth VAN COMPERNOLLE BEL 1:08:06 27 Micki VAN EMPEL NED 1:08:12 28 Patrick VAN LEEUWEN NED 1:08:16 29 Twan VAN DEN BRAND NED 1:08:34 30 Nicolas BAZIN FRA 1:08:40 31 Dave DE CLEYN BEL 1:09:15 32 Lubomir PETRUS CZE 1:09:25 33 Jonathan PAGE USA 1:10:21 34 Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN NED 1:10:35 35 Steven DE DECKER BEL 1:10:45 36 Dries PAUWELS BEL 1:10:51 37 Tom VAN DEN BOSCH BEL 1:11:08 38 Gianni DENOLF BEL 1:11:22 39 Christoph PFINGSTEN GER 1:12:00 40 Mitchell HUENDERS NED 1 Nikki HARRIS GBR 43:01:00 2 Sophie DE BOER NED 44:07:00 3 Sanne CANT BEL 44:25:00 4 Arenda GRIMBERG NED 44:32:00 5 Ellen VAN LOY BEL 44:42:00 6 Amy DOMBROSKI USA 45:22:00 7 Reza HORMES NED 45:30:00 8 Kim VAN DE STEENE BEL 45:39:00 9 Joyce VANDERBEKEN BEL 46:40:00 10 Nancy BOBER BEL 47:31:00 11 Lana VERBERNE NED 47:37:00 12 Hilde QUINTENS BEL 48:02:00 13 Christine VARDAROS USA 48:22:00 14 Anja GELDHOF BEL 49:30:00 15 Ilona METER NED 49:49:00 16 Jolien VERSCHUEREN BEL 49:49:00 17 Hannah WELTER NED 50:13:00 18 Lotte EIKELENBOOM NED 50:36:00 19 Margriet Helena KLOPPENBURG DEN 50:49:00 20 Valerie BOONEN BEL 21 Lene VRIJSEN BEL 22 Sandie VERRIEST BEL 23 Caitlyn LA HAYE BEL 24 Maaike LANSSENS BEL 1 Mike TEUNISSEN NED 51:46:00 2 Jens ADAMS BEL 51:54:00 3 Gianni VERMEERSCH BEL 52:18:00 4 Michael VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 52:29:00 5 Wout VAN AERT BEL 52:34:00 6 Toon AERTS BEL 52:35:00 7 Wietse BOSMANS BEL 52:44:00 8 Jens VANDEKINDEREN BEL 52:48:00 9 Laurens SWEECK BEL 53:04:00 10 Diether SWEECK BEL 53:11:00 11 Gert-Jan BOSMAN NED 53:26:00 12 Quentin JAUREGUI FRA 53:28:00 13 Corne VAN KESSEL NED 53:28:00 14 Emiel DOLFSMA NED 53:45:00 15 Tim MERLIER BEL 53:56:00 16 David VAN DER POEL NED 54:08:00 17 Vinnie BRAET BEL 54:12:00 18 Joeri HOFMAN BEL 54:24:00 19 Karel HNIK CZE 54:34:00 20 Ritchie DENOLF BEL 54:43:00 21 Daan SOETE BEL 54:50:00 22 Tijmen EISING NED 55:13:00 23 Kenneth HANSEN DEN 55:13:00 24 Matthias VAN DE VELDE BEL 55:30:00 25 Braam MERLIER BEL 55:33:00 26 Ingmar UYTDEWILLIGEN BEL 55:46:00 27 Jeffrey MELLEMANS BEL 55:55:00 28 Yorben VAN TICHELT BEL 56:13:00 29 Hendrik SWEECK BEL 56:23:00 30 Luke GRAY GBR 56:44:00 31 Tim ARIESEN NED 56:48:00 32 Niels KOYEN BEL 56:59:00 33 Pjotr VAN BEEK NED 57:18:00 34 Tim DE SCHUYTER BEL 57:39:00