By Brecht Decaluwé in Gavere, Belgium
A week of rain combined with a devious course design translated into a classic cyclo-cross mud bath at the third round of the Superprestige in Gavere, Belgium on Sunday. No artificial barriers were necessary as the numerous muddy climbs and treacherous slippery, rutted descents proved sufficiently challenging and at times dangerous to even the sport's top racers.
Belgian champion Sven Nys took his fifth consecutive victory in the Superprestige at Asper-Gavere in an elite men's race which saw the young guns fall victim to the highly technical course and the old guard rise to the top.
Nys was challenged by former world champion Bart Wellens (Fidea) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Projob), but a bobble by Wellens on the final half lap gave Nys the opportunity he needed to secure the win. Wellens' teammate Erwin Vervecken came in fourth.
"This was old-fashioned cyclo-cross," Nys said after grabbing his seventh win of the season in Gavere. "This was one of the races I really wanted to win so I'm very happy to achieve that since the last few weeks showed that winning isn't simple anymore."
In the women's race, American Katie Compton powered away from Dutch rider Daphny Van den Brandt to take the win by more than a minute, while the 18-year-old Belgian Sanne Cant took her first elite podium place in third.
The espoirs race was a battle of two riders: Germany's Philipp Walsleben (Palmans-Cras) and Belgium' Tom Meeusen (Fidea). Walsleben had a small gap over Meeusen for most of the race but during the last lap Meeusen managed to bridge back up to the German to sprint for the victory in Gavere.
The Belgian champion thought he had it won and raised his hand in the air to celebrate the victory, but failed to take into in account that Walsleben wasn't giving in, and the German threw his wheel ahead of his Belgian rival's at the finish line.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Superprestige round three.