By Brecht Decaluwé
Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Projob) pulled off his best performance ever by claiming victory in the fifth Superprestige round of the season. The Belgian endured rain and snow through the soaked meadow in Gieten, The Netherlands.
With three laps to go, Vantornout led the race comfortably with a 20-second gap over Bart Wellens (Fidea) and Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönisteiner) when he suddenly lost traction and smacked into a pole. Wellens was the only one who exploited Vantornout's unfortunate blunder by bridging up to the leader before the start of the penultimate lap.
The race was eventually decided in a two-man sprint, which Vantornout won with a small margin over Wellens. Belgian champion and leader in the Superprestige series Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönisteiner) finished third and retained his lead in the Superprestige series, but Vantornout now only trails him by three points.
"This is why I'm racing. It's extremely hard to win a big race these days as the level is high. My goal this season was to be on the podium as much as possible, and I've already succeeded four times out of only five Superprestige races," Vantornout said. "This course fit me perfectly with its slightly uphill sections with deep mud."
When asked about the incident that almost took him out of contention for the victory, Vantornout explained that it was a nasty crash. "There were deep tracks, and I lost the good one. My back wheel slipped, and I crashed with my head and shoulder against a deeply grounded pole; I thought I was broken in two. Bart [Wellens] was able to come back, but luckily I had something left for the sprint," said winner Vantornout.
Runner-up Wellens was disappointed after losing the sprint against Vantornout. "Again, more was possible for me. Most of the time, I'm beating Klaas in the sprints, but I think I was in too big of a gear," said Wellens. "Possibly I lacked the necessary energy in the sprint after closing the gap on him."
Nys, the leader in the Superprestige series, wasn't complaining about his third place as he realized that it could've been much worse. "If you're having a bad day, and you're able to finish on the podium anyway, then one shouldn't complain. Today I simply was not as good as yesterday. When Bart joined me in the pursuit of Vantornout, I felt that I couldn't follow him either, and I decided to ride at my own speed in order to avoid a breakdown that would have allowed a comeback from the big group behind us," Nys said.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the fifth round of the Superprestige series.