Two-time UCI Cyclo-Cross World Champion Sanne Cant (Corendon-Circus) and Belgian road race champion Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) took top honours on Tuesday at Het Nieuwsblad's Flandrien awards, naming Belgium's top cyclists for 2018.
Despite the name, the awards celebrate the entire nation's riders, and not only those hailing from Flanders, although this year both winners of the two top awards do come from Flanders.
Cant won the Flandrienne award for the second consecutive year, having taken her second rainbow jersey in February at the World Championships in Valkenburg, topping a 2017-18 'cross season that saw her also win the European and Belgian championships, the UCI World Cup and the Superprestige series.
Cant topped mountain biker Githa Michiels, track world champion Nicky Degrendele, and road racers Lotte Kopecky and Jolien D'hoore to win this year.
"I stood here last year, and I'm super happy that I've succeeded again," Cant said in her acceptance speech, according to Het Nieuwsblad. "It was a great year. I'm very proud to have been able to win those three champions' jerseys. I should mention all the people I want to thank, but I can't remember them all. This is the ultimate recognition for cyclo-cross that I'm here winning the Flandrienne tonight."
So far in the 2018-19 season, Cant has brought home only two victories among a handful of lesser results. But the reigning world champion said she plans to be back in top form once the World Cup fires up again for round 3 in Tabor, in the Czech Republic, on November 17.
"I'm planning on being back in top form once the World Cup starts again," she said. "Now I have to go home soon, because I've got 'cross again this weekend."
Lampaert's Flandrien win was popular even with his competitors, including five-time winner and 'defending champion' Greg Van Avermaet, who was third this year. Victor Campenaert's time trial win at the European Championships and his bronze at the Worlds, meanwhile, lifted him onto the ballot and into second in the final tally, according to Het Nieuwsblad. Lotto Soudal's Tim Wellens was fourth, followed by teammates Thomas De Gendt and Tiesj Benoot.
"I think the Belgian title did it," Lampaert said of his win to Het Nieuwsblad. "When you ride through the peloton in that jersey, everyone notices it. It's going to be hard to give that jersey up when I have to.
"I actually didn't think that I'd win," Lampaert said of his Flandrien award. "But having won is wonderful, and I'd like to thank my team and Patrick Lefevere for the opportunities I get there."
In the other Het Nieuwsblad awards, Thomas De Gendt was named the 'hardest-working rider', Siebe Deweirdt was named best newcomer and Stan Dewulf claimed the under-23 award, ahead of joining Lotto Soudal next season.
Junior time trial and road race world champion Remco Evenepoel was also on hand to win the junior Flandrien award for his outstanding final junior season before he joins Quick-Step next year.