By Brecht Decaluwé
Round #5 of the Superprestige in Veghel-Eerde, The Netherlands, developed into a two-man battle between Sven Nys (Rabobank) and Niels Albert (Palmans-Cras). The two Belgians were highly motivated after the previous Superprestige round in Gieten where Albert had upset Nys for the day's win and ended Nys' winning streak.
Nys waited one lap and then seemingly without effort rode away to a 20 second gap ahead of all opposition with the help of team-mate Lars Boom, who blocked the chase. The hungry, young Albert then launched a counter-attack and joined Nys half-way through the fourth lap when Nys slipped in a corner. A few moments later the UCI points leader had punctured and was left behind.
Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) would chase for the rest of the day, but he never regained the two leaders.
During the sixth lap, Nys overcame his disadvantage that resulted from his mechanical, and he rejoined Albert. He then launched an effort that would decide the rest of the race on the last lap. Both riders rode the climb most others were running during the final go up the Eerde, but Nys was faster and got away for the win.
"I had a very good start and could get a gap thanks to my team-mate Boom. Then I started to make mistakes and Albert could come back," Nys said who took notice that Albert is only getting faster and stronger with every race. "I was surprised that Albert ran so fast," said Nys.
Albert said he only closed the gap "because he [Nys] made a mistake." He then added, "In the last lap Nys could ride away on the hill because I was tired after working so hard to join Nys in front. I had to allow the gap on the climb because Nys is 10 years older... and 10 years stronger."
In the elite women's race, Dutch woman Daphny van den Brand (ZZPR.nl) took her second win of the weekend ahead of compatriots Saskia Elemans (WV de Meteoor) and Mirjam Melchers. Van den Brand won just one day after capturing the UCI World Cup in Milan, Italy.
The next Superprestige will be in Diegem on December 30. That round near Brussels will start at 5:00 pm local start time, just after daylight ends. Floodlights will provide the necessary illumination for the riders and the public.