By Brecht Decaluwé in Oudenaarde
Today marked another big win for Sven Nys (Rabobank) in an eventful and exciting race up and around the famed Koppenberg. 15,000 spectators enjoyed a thrilling race with many changes among the leaders. For a while, John Gadret (Ag2R Prévoyance) gave the impression that he could annoy the Belgian UCI-leader, Nys. Halfway through the race, Sven Nys overcame his technical problems and steamed through towards the lead and eventually the victory.
"I was never worried because I know that the best rider always wins over here," Nys explained after the muddy day in Oudenaarde, Belgium. "In this race, you're allowed to make mistakes because in the end, the experience and the condition gain it over all the other factors."
It's quite clear that when the courses get heavier, the strong guys move up. Nys' experienced teammate Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank) finished second and he knew how he got that good result; saying, "My experience and instincts kept me on the bike where others had to walk."
An unexpected shower spoiled the handling of the cross bikes for most riders. Even Sven Nys known for his skills suffered with the suddenly slippery course. At one point, the UCI-leader was seen letting some air from his tires while the race was going on!
Behind the two experienced Rabobank-riders, John Gadret managed to hold for third place. Gadret performed really strong on the road in the Giro d'Italia but still wants to race in cyclocross. "I'm really happy with my performance as this is the first important cyclocross for me. Up until now, I didn't enjoy specific cyclocross training, so I'm certainly lacking the technical skills the other riders have mastered," Gadret explained. "My goal this season is to win an event in the world cup."
Tomorrow Nys will ride in a somewhat smaller race in Knokke, Belgium before traveling to Italy for the world cup race in Treviso.
For full race coverage, click here.