By Brecht Decaluwé
Belgian Klaas Vantornout abandoned yesterday's race in Essen but he bounced back to beat the big guns in the mother of all cyclo-cross races, the 'grape'-cross in Overijse. The 25 year-old Fidea rider may not have been the strongest rider, but he surely rode the smartest race of all. Together with team-mate Bart Wellens, the Fidea team out-played the opposition and took the top two steps on the podium.
UCI-leader Sven Nys didn't have a good day and when the victory was out of sight the Belgian dropped back and focused on staying healthy on the hard, slippery course – understandably since this race is not part of any series, and Nys' lead in the UCI-rankings is relatively secure.
Nys' mere presence in the race thwarted his rival Bart Wellens' hopes for the victory, as Wellens waited for the decisive move from Nys which never came, and then could only focus on the second place.
The competition for second place surprisingly came from a non-Belgian, and even more surprising was that it was an Under-23 rider, German Philip Walsleben (Heinz von Heiden). Clearly having the best race of his season, Walsleben took third place in Overijse ahead of Belgians Kevin Pauwels (Fidea) and Bart Aernouts (Rabobank).
For Vantornout, who is ranked third in the UCI standings, the day provided the most prestigious victory of his budding career. The Fidea rider threw his fist in the air with joy as he crossed the line 40 seconds ahead of Wellens. "For sure it's the biggest win in my career since I haven't won a big race just yet," Vantornout laughed. "This race is a classic and when Wellens left a gap I didn't hesitate a moment, and attacked. This was team work!"