It may have taken until just before the end of the season, but Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) managed to take his first win today on a treacherous, frozen course in Eeklo, Belgium. Wellens has been on a long road back to the top after battling back from a debilitating virus.
Wellens made the early split with his teammate, World Champ Zdenek Stybar, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet), Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus). While the favorites watched one another, Wellens put in a well-timed attack and took the win solo. Vanthourenhout was next across the line from the group, edging out perennial podiumer Nys by three seconds. Another 20 seconds back, Albert just beat Stybar for fourth.
American Jonathan Page started fast, going solo during the second lap to try to connect with Wellens, but an ill-timed mechanical forced him from the race just a lap later. Page was among an unusually large number of competitors, 11 in all, including Britian’s Ian Field, who abandoned the race.
“This is a season to quickly forget. I would have rather won Sunday in front of my home crowd, but this one they can’t take away from me,” Wellens said, referring to tomorrow’s Superprestige finale in Vorselaar, Belgium.
Wellens, who has been wearing a holter monitor to track his heartbeat all week following an episode of tachycardia during a race last weekend, told reporters the study did not reveal anything unusual. “Did I have my heart studied by a monitor this week?” he said. “Yes, but it was nothing special. Just a little test. This victory is good for my heart.”
Albert and Stybar come into the Superprestige series finale locked in a dead heat. Perhaps today’s tight battle just behind the fight for the podium was a precursor of tomorrow’s showdown. Although Stybar promises to fight for the series, he told Gazet van Antwerpen that he thinks Albert deserves the title, based on his season-long consistency. “If the sport is fair, Niels wins,” said Stybar.
|1||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|2||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet|
|4||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|5||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|7||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor|
|8||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank Continental Team|
|9||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team|
|10||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb Revor|
|11||Martin Zlamalik (Cze)|
|12||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus|
|13||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team|
|14||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|15||Gianni Denolf (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|16||Kacper Szczepaniak (Pol) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|17||Vinnie Braet (Bel) Sunweb Revor|
|18||Ben Berden (Bel) Qin Cycling Team|
|19||Kevin Cant (Bel) AVB Cycling Team|
|20||Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb Revor|
|21||Jim Aernouts (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|22||Jan Soetens (Bel) Colba-Mercuryploeg|
|23||Bjorn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier Versluys Beachbikers Team Vzw|
|24||Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol) Baboco – Revor Cycling Team|
|25||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Empella Czech Team|
|26||Sam Govaert (Bel)|
|27||Bert De Backer (Bel)|