Van Den Brand, Nys Pull the Pin on the Banks of the Schelde, Dombroski Earns Top Ten

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by Dan Seaton

Antwerp, Belgium – Forty-five minutes standing around in the coldest conditions Belgium has seen in nearly a year is probably not the ideal preparation for a tough ‘cross race featuring several long, challenging sections of sand. But that’s how the elite men warmed up for Scheldecross, just across the Schelde River from downtown Antwerp, when a dog uncovered a grenade on the beach not far from the course.  Racing in snowy, sub-freezing conditions in the wake of a storm that brought Belgian traffic to its knees yesterday, Sven Nys was undeterred, taking a 13 second victory over Under-23 standout Tom Meeusen. In the women’s race, Dutch Champion Daphny Van Den Brand rode away from Sanne Cant for a 15 second win, with new American arrival, Amy Dombroski, finishing in tenth.

‘Cross fans in Belgium have been treated to a number of unusual sights this season, but perhaps nothing so bizarre as the sight of 50 of cyclocross’s best riders trying to stay warm for 45 minutes while police decided how to deal with a grenade that was found just off the course only moments before the race’s scheduled 3:00 start.

When police eventually surrounded the explosive with a thick wall of sandbags and ruled the race safe to contest and the riders finally took to the course, it was Czech racer Radomir Simunek who, apparently, managed to stay the warmest. He shot off the front, riding comfortably in conditions more familiar to his home in Eastern Europe than relatively mild Belgium.

But Sven Nys, who recently joked that he was becoming an old timer but looked nothing of the sort today, answered Simunek’s attack decisively and quickly took the lead in the race, which was shortened to 45 minutes due to the delay.  In the tough conditions only Dutch rider Gerben De Knegt could match Nys’ surge. Nys, however, quickly made it clear that he wanted no company, powering through the snow and sand to open a substantial gap over the rest of the field.

Nys entered the final lap with a gap of nearly half a minute over the nearest challenger, Meeusen, and rode conservatively, allowing Meeusen and Zdeněk Štybar, who had attacked off the front of a large chase group of some seven riders, back into the race a bit.  But Nys’ lead was secure and the Belgian Champion rolled across the line well ahead of Meeusen, who, in turn, edged out Štybar for second. An American, Brandon Mart, started but finished last in 51st.

In the women’s race, contested earlier in the day, Daphny Van Den Brand rode away from Sanne Cant to take first by 15 seconds, and nearly a minute over third place finisher Sanne Van Paassen.  Four North American women started the race. American Christine Vardaros withdrew from the race after a hard fall early on, Canadian and Cyclocross Magazine contributor Vicki Thomas finished in 20th, while fellow Cannuck Rachael Mirvish finished in 27th. American Amy Dombroski finished an impressive 10th in her first race since coming to Europe following US Nationals last weekend. “Ugly race today…not on the ball and off the wall. Good opener for Kalmthout Sunday, I hope!” Dombroski said via Twitter, then had a laugh about the grenade. “I felt like I exploded!…Anywhere else but Belgium the race woulda been canceled!”

Nys told reporters after the race that, despite several disappointing losses to Niels Albert last weekend, he felt good about his fitness coming into the busy Christmas racing season. “My fitness has been good for weeks,” he said, “And my confidence is good now that I’ve started the Christmas period, which is heavy, with a victory.”  Albert, Nys’ main rival for much of the season, started slow and never managed to break out of the chase group, finishing seventh.

21 year-old Meeusen said he was thrilled to be able to mix it up with the “big boys” of ‘cross. “This track fit me like a glove,” Meeusen said, “and the ‘cross was fifteen minutes shorter, so it was in my favor. It is super to stand between these men after all the hard work I did in the summer.”

Just how a grenade came to lie on the beach during a major ‘cross race or what happened to it after the race remains unclear.  Nonetheless, barring additional unplanned excitement, racing in Europe picks back up with the World Cup in Kalmthout on Sunday.  Stay tuned to cxmagazine.com for complete coverage.

Brief Results

Women

Rank Name Nat. Age* Result Points Points
1 Daphny VAN DEN BRAND NED 32 37:19 20 20
2 Sanne CANT BEL 20 37:34 15 15
3 Sanne VAN PAASSEN NED 22 38:11 12 12
4 Reza HORMES NED 43 38:35 10 10
5 Hanka KUPFERNAGEL GER 36 39:09 8 8
6 Joyce VANDERBEKEN BEL 26 39:17 5 5
7 Jasmin ACHERMANN SUI 21 39:31 4 4
8 Nikki HARRIS GBR 24 39:31 3 3
9 Sophie DE BOER NED 20 39:50 2 2
10 Amy DOMBROSKI USA 23 39:56 1 1
11 Helen WYMAN GBR 29 40:28
12 Gabriella DAY GBR 26 41:12
13 Veerle INGELS BEL 29 42:09
14 Nicole DE BIE – LEYTEN BEL 35 42:09
15 Nancy BOBER BEL 35 42:09
16 Anne ARNOUTS BEL 21 42:20
17 Daniela BRESCIANI ITA 28 42:34
18 Nicoletta BRESCIANI ITA 24 43:14
19 Nathalie NIJNS BEL 17 44:17
20 Vicki THOMAS CAN 38 44:37
21 Katrien AERTS BEL 40 46:06
22 Ilse VANDEKINDEREN BEL 20 46:37
23 Steffy VAN DEN HAUTE BEL 17 47:09
24 Laure WERNER BEL 29 47:49
25 Kim VAN RENTERGHEM BEL 21 48:19
26 Marijke DE PAUW BEL 20 49:04
27 Rachael MIRVISH CAN 33 49:09
28 Katrien VAN LOOY BEL 21
29 Sarah VLOEMANS BEL 20

Men

Rank Name Nat. Age* Result Points Points
1 Sven NYS BEL 34 44:15 60 60
2 Tom MEEUSEN BEL 22 44:28 40 40
3 Zdenek STYBAR CZE 25 44:30 30 30
4 Radomir SIMUNEK CZE 27 44:39 25 25
5 Gerben DE KNEGT NED 35 44:45 20 20
6 Kevin PAUWELS BEL 26 44:50 18 18
7 Niels ALBERT BEL 24 44:50 16 16
8 Bart AERNOUTS BEL 28 44:50 14 14
9 Enrico FRANZOI ITA 28 45:12 12 12
10 Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 25 45:12 10 10
11 Vincent BAESTAENS BEL 21 45:36 8 8
12 Eddy VAN IJZENDOORN NED 25 45:36 6 6
13 Martin ZLAMALIK CZE 28 45:36 4 4
14 Christian HEULE SUI 35 45:36 2 2
15 Jim AERNOUTS BEL 21 45:36 1 1
16 Marco BIANCO ITA 28 45:36
17 Rob PEETERS BEL 25 45:36
18 Thijs AL NED 30 46:12
19 Joeri ADAMS BEL 21 46:12
20 Mitchell HUENDERS NED 22 46:20
21 Jan VERSTRAETEN BEL 32 46:20
22 Philipp WALSLEBEN GER 23 46:54
23 Patrick VAN LEEUWEN NED 25 46:54
24 Ramon SINKELDAM NED 21 46:54
25 David DEREPAS FRA 32 46:54
26 Nico BERCKMANS BEL 41 46:54
27 Geert WELLENS BEL 27 46:54
28 Lubomir PETRUS CZE 20 46:54
29 John GADRET FRA 31 46:54
30 Tom VAN DEN BOSCH BEL 25 46:54
31 Arnaud JOUFFROY FRA 20 46:54
32 Quentin BERTHOLET BEL 23 46:54
33 Bart VERSCHUEREN BEL 24 47:30
34 Jimmy TIELENS BEL 31 47:40
35 Dave DE CLEYN BEL 22 47:58
36 Wim LEEMANS BEL 23 47:58
37 Jan VAN DAEL BEL 23 47:58
38 Ben BERDEN BEL 35 47:58
39 Gianni DENOLF BEL 23 48:19
40 Corne VAN KESSEL NED 19 48:30
41 Mike GARRIGAN CAN 29 49:32
42 Kevin CANT BEL 22 49:32
43 Stijn HUYS BEL 24 49:32
44 Paul OLDHAM GBR 33 49:44
45 Yves CORMINBOEUF SUI 25 49:45
46 Ken smets BEL 28 50:50
47 Baasankhuu MYAGMARSUREN MGL 19
48 Naran KHANGARID MGL 21
49 Ariunbold NARANBAT MGL 30
50 Robert WATSON GBR 19
51 Brandon MART USA 20

 

 

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