After a couple of sub-par technical performances, Nys was back to his usual self © Bart Hazen

After a couple of sub-par technical performances, Nys was back to his usual self © Bart Hazen

by Dan Seaton

Lille, Belgium – Though the World Champions’ jerseys may have been handed out last week, cyclocross keeps rolling for another month, with prizes in two big series—the GVA Trofee and Superprestige—still up for grabs. Today it was the GVA Trofee, which last met in Baal on New Years Day, that picked back up with the seventh of eight stops in the series, Krawatencross.

Though temperatures moderated some from the unusually cold conditions that racers have had to contend with in Belgium since mid-December, heavy fog rolled in early and racers steered in and out of the trees, emerging from the mist and disappearing again as they made their way through each lap. The course, a flat, but winding affair on the grounds of what is normally a summertime family playground, mostly packed dirt mixed with long stretches of sand, alternated between sloppy, saturated beach and hard, fast track through the forest.

Vermeersch, Jouffroy Claim Early Victories

Arnaud Jouffroy claims the top step in Lille © Bart Hazen

Arnaud Jouffroy claims the top step in Lille © Bart Hazen

In the Juniors, Belgian Gianni Vermeersch took a 12 second victory over Jens Adams, while David Van Der Poel held off Diether Sweeck for the final spot on the podium.

Later in the morning, new World Champion Pawel Szczepaniak led a large field through the early laps of the Under-23 race before fading badly and finishing 25th. French rider Arnoud Jouffroy, who finished third at Worlds, took up the charge, pulling away from the field in the second half of the race to take a seven second victory over series leader Tom Meeusen. Jan Denuwelaere won a three-way sprint over Vincent Baestaens and Lubomir Petrus to take third.

Vos Takes Women’s Race with Last-Minute Dash

Vos leads through the sandy corners © Dan Seaton

Vos leads through the sandy corners © Dan Seaton

In the women’s race, Marianne Vos, fresh off her second straight World Championship in Tábor, stormed back from a last-lap mechanical to take the victory over Daphny van den Brand and local favorite Sanne Cant. Vos’ last-moment win, in her first race since Worlds, was a show of force after a tough fight between four of Europe’s best women racers: Vos, van den Brand, Cant, and Sanne van Paassen.

Vos may have finished the job, but van den Brand fired the first shot, surging off the line and quickly racking up a substantial lead over van Paassen and Vos, who rode in second and third place. But by the second lap, the three Dutch riders up front had come together in a single group, working together to hold off Cant, who’s effort was boosted by a hometown crowd.

Sanne Cant represents Belgium in the front foursome © Dan Seaton

Sanne Cant represents Belgium in the front foursome © Dan Seaton

Cant trailed the three leaders by perhaps as much as 15 seconds after the first lap, but surged through some of the wettest sections of the course while the leaders bided their time, connecting with the front by the end of the lap to make it a four-woman race.

Further back, British Rider Helen Wyman connected with and then shed series leader Pavla Havlikova and Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn. After a strong start, Wyman simply couldn’t match the speed of the women at the head of the race, and rode most of the way to her fifth place finish solo, some two minutes back from the leaders.

Meanwhile, the leaders traded shots. First the three Dutchwomen tried unsuccessfully to crack the Belgian Cant, then each individually took turns venturing a few meters off the front. But nothing stuck, and with one lap to go, it looked like it would come down to a four-way sprint for the win. Van Paassen ran into trouble and fell out of the lead group, then Vos’s front shifter jammed, forcing her to pit while Cant and van den Brand headed for the finish ahead of her.

Van den Brand, second, would like to be one step higher © Bart Hazen

Van den Brand, second, would like to be one step higher © Bart Hazen

Vos managed to tap some deep reserve of strength and blasted her way back into the race, first connecting with van den Brand and Cant, and then sprinting past them in the final few hundred meters. Vos hit the finish line half a wheel ahead of van den Brand, the exertion of the race’s final few minutes showing clearly on her face. Cant, who simply couldn’t match the power of Vos and van den Brand’s final sprint, took third, with van Paassen in fourth, some thirty seconds behind the leaders.

“I wasn’t able to get away” said Vos after the race. “We all tried, and sometimes we got ten meters or something, but then we came together. In the last lap I tried another time, but it didn’t work out, then I had some problems with my gear and had to get another bike. I thought the two were gone, Daphny and Sanne, but I just tried to come back and at the finish I was able to get the wheel of Sanne.”

A seventh place finish left Havlikova with the overall lead in the GVA Trofee, two points ahead of Wyman and three ahead of van den Brand going in to the decisive round of the series in two weeks.

Nys Squeaks By Stybar

Nys leading Stybar © Bart Hazen

Nys leading Stybar © Bart Hazen

In the men’s race, a timely move in the final moments of the race set up Sven Nys to edge out newly minted World Champion Zdeněk Štybar for the win. The two riders shot to the front of the race during the first lap and were never seriously challenged, eventually stretching their lead to nearly a minute over third place finisher Kevin Pauwels, who himself sprinted away from Niels Albert and Sven Vanthourenhout in the final meters of the race.

Nys and Štybar grabbed a gap just as the course opened up after the first series of tight turns, powering through the wet sand on a half-frozen beach that wrapped around a small pond in the middle of the course. For a few moments, Enrico Franzoi was able to hang on to the leaders, but soon fell back into a chase group with Gerben De Knegt and his teammate Radomir Simunek.

While Nys and Štybar were pulling away from the rest of the race, disaster struck for Erwin Vervecken, who started well in fourth place, as he broke his derailleur and was forced to run the better part of a lap to reach the pits. The mechanical trouble so early in an already fast race put to rest any hope of a finish in the top-10 for the former World Champion, in his final season of competition.

Only Pauwels managed to challenge the two leaders. Pauwels, who had a slow start, was gaining ground on the pair through the first several laps, and came within just a few bike lengths of them before suddenly fading and falling back to race together with Albert.

Albert's slow start meant he had to work through traffic early © Bart Hazen

Albert's slow start meant he had to work through traffic early © Bart Hazen

Albert himself had to fight his way from deep in the field after a slow beginning. He hopped from group to group, eventually teaming up with Vanthourenhout and Bart Aernouts to chase the leaders. The Albert group managed to close the gap to the front to about 10 seconds before their effort fell apart. Aernouts fell off the pace first, then Vanthourenhout, while Pauwels and Albert joined forces but continued to lose ground.

While the chase group behind them evolved through its several incarnations, Nys and Štybar continued steadily on.  Nys claimed a three point bonus by winning a second-lap sprint, then, several laps later, Nys capitalized on a bobble in the sand by Štybar, opening a quick, but sizable gap.  But Nys was forced to slow through a technical series of turns on the back half of the course, and by the end of the lap the two were back together.

“In the first half I was really suffering,” said Štybar. “I couldn’t really find my rhythm, and one time I made a mistake in the sand, and at that moment Sven was quite far away. But then I could close the gap and from that moment, I got a better feeling. In the second half I think I was on the same level.”

From the midpoint of the ten-lap race, Nys and Štybar, apparently gaining enough ground every lap to feel like at least second place was locked up, simply rode together. Nys, who looked uncharacteristically off balance at the World Championships last week, was back to his typically graceful style, looking relaxed and confident, while Štybar seemed to push his bike harder, bobbing and moving, appearing more aggressive, if no faster, than Nys.

But Nys won the tactical battle, backing off just enough in the final few turns to force Štybar to the front as the two approached the finish. Forced into leading out the sprint, Štybar could not hold off Nys, who came around him just as the two reached the finish line. Behind them, Pauwels pulled away from a disappointed Albert in the final hundred meters of the race to take the last spot on the podium, distancing Sven Vanthourenhout—who had reconnected with them in the final laps—in the process.

Despite the convincing victory, Nys told reporters afterwards that he was not feeling his best going into the race. “My head is clogged,” he said, “but not my legs.” Nys said he was forced to resort to an antibiotic for the first time in two years. “If you can win one of the big competitions, it’s worth the risk,” he said.

Nys added that he felt that both he and Štybar lacked the finishing punch they may have had before all of the trials of the season. “That was a typical late-season sprint,” he said, “but I felt like I was slightly better than Štybar. I felt the whole race like I might be a little better, but I couldn’t shake Zdeněk.”

Nys’ win and the bonus points he picked up in the intermediate sprint give him an all but insurmountable 14-point lead in the overall GVA Trofee standings, while Štybar’s second place leaves him tied for second with Albert. Kevin Pauwels and Bart Aernouts, holding fourth and fifth, are some fifty points down from third.

Vervecken enjoyed a special ceremony in his home town © Bart Hazen

Vervecken enjoyed a special ceremony in his home town © Bart Hazen

For Nys, abandons in both the first round of the World Cup in Treviso and the Diegem Superprestige in January all but wiped out any hope of overall victories in those series. The GVA Trofee remains the sole possibility for a major series victory this season for the man who has dominated all three of cyclocross’s biggest prizes in recent years.

After the race there were special honors for Vervecken, who grew up in Lille. Vervecken told fans that he tried his best to make a race of it, but the early mechanical left him impossibly far behind. He thanked the local fans for an outpouring of support at his final appearance in his boyhood home. “Everybody was here,” he said. “And not just my fans, but people who would otherwise never come to a ‘cross. I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Check cxmagazine.com for more soon, including full results and photos.

Elite Women’s Photo Gallery:

Elite Men’s Photo Gallery:

U23 Men’s Photo Gallery:

Highlight Video:

Full Results:

GAZET VAN ANTWERPEN TROFEE VELDRIJDEN – KRAWATENCROSS LILLE

Elite (40 starters.)

Uitslag

1. Sven Nys (Baal/Landbouwkrediet) 1:04:09

2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze)

3. Kevin Pauwels 00:56

4. Niels Albert z.t.

5. Sven Vanthourenhout z.t.

6. Bart Aernouts 01:12

7. Bart Wellens 01:44

8. Dieter Vanthourenhout 02:18

9. Rob Peeters z.t.

10. Gerben de Knegt (Ned) 02:31

11. Radomir Simunek (Cze) 0:2.40

12. Enrico Franzoi (Ita) 02:46

13. Klaas Vantornout z.t.

14. Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) 02:58

15. Thijs Al (Ned) z.t.

16. Wilant van Gils z.t.

17. Tom Van den Bosch 03:16

18. Jan Verstraeten 03:24

19. Philipp Walsleben (Swi) 04:21

20. Eddy van Ijzendoorn z.t.

21. Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned) 04:30

22. Stijn Huys z.t.

23. Jimmy Tielens 04:35

24. Christian Heule (Zwi) 04:59

25. Martin Zlamalik (Cze) z.t.

26. Marco Bianco (Ita) 05:59

27. Ben Berden 05:15

28. Erwin Vervecken 05:20

29. Quentin Bertholet 05:44

30. Gianni Denolf z.t.

31. Tim Van Nuffel at 1 lap

32. Sten Raeymaekers

33. Geert Wellens

34. Ken Smets

35. Tom De Kort

36. Jan Soetens

37. Bart Verschueren

38. Lukas Klouck

Sprint:

1. Sven Nys 3 punten

2. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) 2

3. Kevin Pauwels 1

Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee Overall (7 races)

1. Sven Nys 171 ptn

2. Niels Albert 157

3. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) 157

4. Kevin Pauwels 105

5. Bart Aernouts 103

6. Gerben de Knegt (Ned) 98

7. Dieter Vanthourenhout 85

8. Klaas Vantornout 81

9. Radimir Simunek (Cze) 61

10. Enrico Franzoi (Ita) 57

11. Erwin Vervecken 55

12. Rob Peeters 53

13. Sven Vanthourenhout 42

14. Tom Van den Bosch 34

15. Thijs van Amerongen 34

16. Mariusz Gil (Pol) 32

17. Christiann Heule (Zwi) 32

18. Francis Mourey (Fra) 31

19. Thijs Al (Ned) 29

20. Bart Wellens 28

21. Wilant van Gils (Ned) 21

22. Ben Berden 20

23. Philipp Walsleben 17

24. Jan Soetens 14

25. Jonathan Page (USA) 11

26 Petr Dlask (Cze) 10

27. Jan Verstraeten 10

28. Marco Bianco (Ita) 7

29. Ian Field (Gbr) 4

30. Quentin Bertholet 4

31. Steve Chainel (Fra) 4

32. Martin Zlamalik

33. Tim Van Nuffel 2

34. Bram Smidt (Ned) 2.

35. Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned) 1

Sprint Classification

1. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) 15 ptn

2. Sven Nys 12

3. Niels Albert 8

4. Klaas Vantornout  3

5. Gerben de Knegt 3

6. Kevin Pauwels

U23 (52 starters)

1. Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) 0.53:34

2. Tom Meeusen at 00:07

3. Jan Denuwelaere at 00:11

4. Vincent Baestaens z.t.

5. Lubomir Petrus (Cze) z.t.

6. Jim Aernouts 00:54

7. Michi van Empel (Ned) z.t.

8. Kevin Cant z.t.

9. Kenneth Van Compernolle z.t.

10. Stef Boden 01:21

11. Robert Gavenda (Slk) z.t.

12. Wietse Bosmans 01:24

13. Kevin Eeckhout 01:35

14. Kacper Szczepaniak (Pol) 01:43

15. Karel Hnik (Cze) 01:47

16. Geert van der Horst (Ned) 02:18

17. Tijmen Eising (Ned) 02:29

18. Mitchell Huenders (Ned) 03:08

19. Corne van Kessel (Ned) 03:26

20. Kobus Hereygers (Ned) 04:19

21. Jonathan Bervoets 04:31

22. Kristof Cat 04:54

23. Niels Koyen 05:02

24. Dries Pauwels 05:27

25. Pawel Szczepaniak (Cze) z.t.

26. Ritchie Denolf  05:37

27. Stijn Mortelmans z.t.

28. Sonny Volders 06:21

29. Raf Risbourg 07:02

30. Ruben Verstraeten 07:011

31. Michaël Peeters 08:03

32. Rinzie De Proost 08:08

33. Ingmar Uytdewilligen z.t.

34. Edwin Arts at 1 lap

35. Sieën Verstraeten

36.Wim Thijs

37. Robin Poelvoorde

38. Kenny Maes at 2 laps

39. Vincent Van Hooste

40. Rutger Lahaye

41. Thomas Verbeeck

42. Kevin Neirynck at 3 laps

43. Simone Samparisi (Ita)

44. Jean Baptiste Taleux at 4 laps

45. Kenneth Goossens

46. Joachim Janssens

U23 Overall GvA-Trofee

1. Tom Meeusen 156 ptn

2. Jan Denuwelaere 121

3. Jim Aernouts 111

4. Robert Gavenda (Slk) 103

5. Kenneth Vancompernolle 97

6. Stef Boden 93

7. Lubomir Petrus (Cze) 76

8. Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) 66

9. Kacper Szczerpaniak (Pol) 63

10. Pawel Szczerpaniak (Pol) 60

11. Vincent Baestaens 59

12. Tijmen Eising (Ned) 52

13. Micki van Empel (Ned) 51

14. Kevin Cant 48

15. Wietse Bosmans 46

16. Mitchell Huenders (Ned) 43

17. Joeri Adams 38

18. Jiri Polnicki (Pol) 28

19. Twan van den Brand (Ned)

20. Corné van Kessel (Ned) 26

21. Marcel Meisen (Swi) 23

22. Kevin Eeckhout 21

23. Karel Hnik (Cze) 19

24. Sasha Weber (Swi) 18

25. Vinnie Braet 14

26. Dave De Cleyn 13

27. Thomas Vernaeckt 11

28. Marek Konwa (Pol) 10

29. Kristof Cat 9

30. Sven Beelen 7

31. Lars van der Haar (Ned) 6

32. Geert van der Horst (Ned) 5

33. Boy van Poppel (Ned) 4

34. Zeb Willems 3

35. Michael Winterberg (Zwi)

36. Dries Pauwels

37. Twan Lammertink (Ned) 1

37. Sonny Volders 1

38. Kobus Hereygers

Women (29 starters)

1. Marianne Vos (Ned) 0.37:50

2. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) z.t.

3. Sanne Cant 00:03

4. Sanne van Paassen (Ned) 00:31

5. Helen Wyman (Gbr) 02:10

6. Rez Hormes- Ravenstijn (Ned) 02:16

7. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) z.t.

8. Nicolle De Bie-Leyten 02:22

9. Joyce Vanderbeken 02:33

10. Nancy Bober 03:57

11. Veerle Ingels 04:06

12. Karen Verstraeten 04:20

13. Ellen Van Loy 04:27

14. Lana Verberne (Ned) 05:35

15. Christine Vardaros (USA)06:34

16. Katrien Aerts 07:12

17. Nathalie Nijns 07:57

18. Katrien Thijs 08:23

19. Steffy Van den Haute 08:23

20. Dorien Raeymaekers 10:46

21. Jo Blanchaert at 1 lap

22. Marijke De Pauw

23. KimVan Renterghem

24. Valerie Boonen

25. Caitlyn La Haye

26. Sarah Vloemans

Stand GvA-Trofee

1. Pavla Havlikova (Cze) 75 ptn

2. Wyman Helen (Gbr) 73

3. Daphny van den Brand (Ned) 72

4. Sanne Cant 69

5. Sanne van Paassen (Ned) 60

6. Joyce Vanderbeken 49

7. Marianne Vos (Ned) 47

8. Linda van Rijen (Ned) 44

9. Sophie de Boer (Ned) 40

10. Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn (Ned) 40

11. Saskia Elemans (Ned) 31

12. Veerle Ingels 26

13. Nancy Bober 26

14. Arenda Grimberg (Ned) 25

15. Gabriella Day (Gbr) 20

16. Ludvine Henrion 16

17. Christine Vandaros (USA) 15

18. Nicole Leyten-De Bie 14

19. Nikki Harris (Gbr) 13

20. Ellen Van Loy 13

21. Sabrina Stultiens (Ned) 11

22. Pauline Ferrand (Fra) 10

23. Linda Verbeme (Ned) 10

24. Karen Verhestraeten 9

25. Jana Kyptova (Cze)

26. Cynthia Huygens (Ned) 7

27. Lucie Chainel (Fra) 7

28. Ilona Meter (Ned) 6

29. Christel Ferrier (Fra) 6

30. Katrien Vermeiren 5.

31. Rocio Gaminal (Spa) 5

32. Steffy Van den Haute 5

33. Katrien Aerts 5

34. Patsy Larno 4.

35. Nathalie Nijns 4

36. Katrien Thijs 3.

37. Sabrina Schwiezer (Swi) 2

38. Dorien Raymaekers 1

Juniors (41 starters)

1. Gianni Meersman 0.41:01

2. Jens Adams at 00:12

3. David van der Poel (Ned) 00:19

4. Diether Sweeck z.t.

5. Tim Merlier 00:38

6. Mike Teunissen 00:41

7. Inausti Jon Ander (Spa) 00:46

8. Hendrik Sweeck 00:50

9. Toon Aerts 01:30

10. Mike De Bie 02:39

11. Daniel Peeters 02:48

12. Timo Verschueren 03:05

13. Niels Ooms 03:13

14. Nicolas Samparisi (Ita) 03:35

15. Nick Van Dijke (Ned) 03:39

16. Jeroen Eyskens 03:45

17. Mike Van Aken 04:14

18. Stijn Gielen 04:25

19. Lorenzo Pepermans z.t.

20. Lorenzo Vanderschueren 04:40

21. Jordy Van Staeyen 04:55

22. Denis Stultiens z.t.

23. Dieter Van de Putte 05:55

24. Robin Delanghe 05:29

25. Jellen Schietecatte z.t.

26. Bart De Zutter z.t.

27. Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) 07:35

28. Michael Dhondt z.t.

29. Birger Vandael 08:15

30. Tjebbe Lievens 08:30

31. Niels Verdijck at 1 lap

32. Bart Van Dongen (Ned)

33. Jens

Beginners (58 starters)

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) 0.27:43

2. Yorben Van Tichelt at 00:02

3. Daan Soeten 00:03

4. Daan Hoeyberghs 01:23

5. Toon Wouters 01:33

6. Matthias Van de Velde 02:04

7. Pjotr van Beek (Ned) z.t

8. Jens Van Rompaey 02:20

9. Gillian Verstraeten 02:28

10. Jens Couckuyt 02:29

11. Quinten Hermans 02:31

12. Tim Ariesen (Ned) 03:18

13. Bjorn van der Heyden (Ned) 03:35

14. Jochen De Vocht 03:48

15. Robbie van Bakel (Ned) 03:51

16. Jelto Veroft 03:53

17. Jeffrey Jansegers z.t.

18. Patrick Mulder (Ned) 04:11

19. Glenn Vissers 04:16

20. Onno Verheyen 04:18

21. Kenny Schellens 04:19

22. Brent Van den Bosch z.t.

23. Dieter Jacobs 04:27

24. Stig Callay 04:37

25. Stef Goormans z.t.

26. Thybo Notredame  z.t.

27. Jorne Cockaerts z.t.

28. Jochen Vervoort 04:58

29. Kyle De Proost 05.00

30. Arno Brocatus 05:02

31. Kevin Panhuyzen 05:05

32. Koen van de Ven (Ned) 05:10

33. Pepijn Martens 05:14

34. Kevin Ysenbaardt 05:18

35. Neals De  Graef 05:20

36. Hans Raeymaekers 05:40

37. Lenny Mortier 06:06

38. Nick Van Roy 06:10

39. Yves Coolens 06:11

40. Niels Buysen 06:16

41. Alexander Hanquet 06:20

42. Jasper De Meyer 06:23

43. Niels Boons 06:28

44. Nicholas De Laet 06:39

45  Evy Kuypers (Ned) 06:41

46 Tjendo De Baere z.t.

47. Arno Verberckmoes at 1 lap

48. Siebe Jacops

49. Brent Van Looy

50. Tim Truyers

51. Caren Commissaris

52. Tom Bosmans

53. Shana Maes

54. Dieter Fleurackers

55. Stijn Neirynck

56. Michiel Van Echelpoel

57. Jeffrey Cools

58. Jonathan Van Weverberg