Belgium, regarded as the strongest cyclo-cross country, held its national championships for the 64th time and the frozen sand course in Oostmalle was the perfect location for a dramatic spectacle. Many riders went down and the favorites weren't spared from going down too.
Eventually Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) made least mistakes and the 33 year-old grabbed his seventh tricolore jersey. Klaas Vantornout finished as runner-up ahead of surprising youngster Tom Meeusen. World champion Niels Albert was riding in the main chasing group when he - according to the rider - was pulled off the bike by a Nys fan. A disappointed Albert finished ninth.
When crossing the line Nys was beaming of joy, even though it was his seventh title. "It certainly wasn't the easiest one. I planned to ride the first half hour comfortably in the group but due to crashes I ended up chasing and taking risks. Suddenly I was on my belly and when back on my bike my chain wasn't working along.
"I kept my composure and focused on picking up with the next group. Once at front I took the lead and went steady on the straights and then went as fast as I could through the corners, hoping the others would make mistakes," Nys said.
"It was unbelievable. When I was younger I would have made more mistakes, but I have the experience of bouncing back from a poor position, especially over the past few weeks. If you can steer well and you feel you can win then this is fantastic, adrenaline throughout your body. It's like Paul Herijgers says, this is my playground," Nys said.
While Nys was having trouble staying on his bike early on, the outsiders were having a go at front. Nys' buddy Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) claimed the hole shot and led the field through the first corners with teammate Klaas Vantornout and Tom Meeusen right behind him.
Right after Meeusen passed Vantornout the latter crashed and held up the bunch. During the second lap Meeusen slid away in a corner, leaving Vanthourenhout leading the race. The 28 year-old had a gap on a group with teammates Rob Peeters and Meeusen, while Vantornout was protecting his team-mate's attempt by riding at ease at the back of the group.
Behind these four, world champion Niels Albert was leading a chase group that included Bart Aernouts, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Erwin Vervecken and Bart Wellens. The latter was thrown out of contention for the title when he suffered a mechanical. It was a second blow for the Telenet-Fidea team after Kevin Pauwels was distanced with a chain problem during the first lap.
The fifth of eight laps turned things around. Sven Vanthourenhout slipped and was caught back by Peeters and Meeusen, while Vantornout was gapped. Further back Nys left the main chasing group behind which he had joined one lap earlier. It was during this lap Albert claimed that a Nys-fan took him down.
"Nys was going flat out, then Vervecken and me in third position. We were coming back on the leaders and then a Nys supporter pulled me off the bike. It's scandalous. They can do what they want: shout at me, spit at me and throw beer at me but they have to keep their hands off. It's not possible to race like that.
"It was certainly a Nys fan. I looked back and they were celebrating the feat. I'm not saying that I would've won the race, but it's sad that I had to lose it this way. Sven has to talk with his fans now. If he's not doing anything then I'm taking my conclusions and I'll be hard to get during the next races," Albert said. Fans who witnessed the incident confirmed on Sporza radio that Albert was taken down intentionally by a clearly drunk person.
Meanwhile, on the penultimate lap, there were five riders left battling for the title, which is worth almost as much as the world championships title in Belgium.
Nys took the lead for the first time in the race with Peeters ending up being the only rider able to hold his wheel. Halfway through the lap Peeters slipped away when cornering into the sole short climb on the course in Oostmalle. Nys was gone and hit the last lap as sole leader with eight seconds on the chasers.
Sven Vanthourenhout led the chase, but then he smashed into the fences. Meeusen was forced to brake hard and was spun around, while Vantornout manoeuvred in between the two riders and stormed away.
Nys wasn't allowed to ease off as Vantornout was closing in on him, taking huge risks. Eventually Vantornout made some minor mistakes and Nys had time to celebrate his victory during the last meters.
A surprising third place behind Nys and Vantornout was claimed by young Tom Meeusen. The 21 year-old was obliged to start with the Elite Men because he has a professional contract with Telenet-Fidea, but at the world championships he'll be contesting in the Under 23 category.
Meeusen gained respect with strong finishes in the elite races in Antwerp and Middelkerke, but even so, his third place was even more than what he expected himself.
"I can be happy and if everything would've gone my way more was possible. But I'm happy that I'm on the podium anyway. Sven Nys just told me that it wouldn't be the last time and if he says that of course that's something that makes me really proud. Riding with the big boys is already special but I wanted to make the race too and because of the excitement I went down twice," Meeusen said.
Finishing just ahead of him was Klaas Vantornout who had been out of competition several times during the last two weeks. "I wasn't the top favorite because I didn't race much during the last two weeks. It hurt my pride and because of that I was very motivated to prove some people wrong.
"I was having a good race and helped Sven Vanthourenhout to get away. I was comfortable on Nys' wheel until I made a mistake. During the last lap I took full risks and came very close but then some mistakes ended the battle. Second is good but I'd rather won," Vantornout said.
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||1:00:11|
|2||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:00:03|
|3||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:04|
|4||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:12|
|5||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:00:35|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo Continental Team||0:00:38|
|7||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:01:00|
|8||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Baboco Revor Cycling Team||0:01:17|
|9||Niels Albert (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:01:39|
|10||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:43|
|11||Ben Berden (Bel) Qin Cycling Team||0:02:09|
|12||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Kdl Trans Team||0:02:12|
|13||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:02:21|
|14||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:04:36|
|15||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Aa Drink Cycling Team||0:05:39|
|1||Geert Wellens (Bel) Scott Usa Cycling Team||1:02:05|
|2||Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Ridley Moosenwirt Team||0:00:11|
|3||Stijn Huys (Bel) Palmans-Cras||0:00:13|
|4||Jimmy Tielens (Bel) Team Saeco Focus 2012 Vzw||0:00:43|
|5||Wim Leemans (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:01:17|
|6||Bart Verschueren (Bel) Cyclingchamps||0:01:40|
|7||Jan Van Dael (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:01:51|
|8||Stijn Penne (Bel) Sdc - Rogelli Cycling Team|
|9||Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:06|
|10||Kendric Van Grembergen (Bel) Sdc - Rogelli Cycling Team||0:02:07|
|11||Gianni Denolf (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:02:08|
|12||Jan Soetens (Bel) Colba-Mercury-Dourphonie||0:02:32|
|13||Kay Van Den Brande (Bel) Scott Usa Cycling Team||0:02:38|
|14||Kris Lapere (Bel) Mez Team Belgium Snellegem||0:03:04|
|15||Tom De Kort (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:03:30|
|16||Steve Gruwier (Bel) Asfra Racing Team||0:03:53|
|17||Brecht Lippens (Bel) C.T. Keukens Buysse Knesselare||0:04:12|
|18||Sam Govaert (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:04:15|
|19||Ken Smets (Bel) Kon. W.C. Steeds Vooraan - Kontich||0:04:22|
|20||Sten Raeymakers (Bel) Cyclocrossteam Freddy Sport Dilbeek||0:07:15|
|21||Jochem Danckaers (Bel)|
|1||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:46:39|
|2||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam Vzw||0:00:22|
|3||Wietse Bosmans (Bel) Bkcp - Powerplus||0:00:26|
|4||Kevin Cant (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:00:30|
|5||Sean De Bie (Bel) Pws Eijssen Cycling Team|
|6||Angelo De Clercq (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:00:43|
|7||Ruben Veestraeten (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:00:45|
|8||Stef Boden (Bel) Aa Cycling Team||0:00:46|
|9||Sven Beelen (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:00:48|
|10||Joeri Adams (Bel) Rabo Continental Team||0:01:04|
|11||Kristof Cop (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:01:20|
|12||Dany Lacroix (Bel) Velo Club De L´Espoir Condruzien||0:01:23|
|13||Thomas Vernaeckt (Bel) Sunweb-Revor Cycling Team||0:01:33|
|14||Ingmar Uytdewilligen (Bel) W.A.C. Team Hoboken (Kon.) V.Z.W.||0:01:42|
|15||Jonathan Bervoets (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:01:49|
|16||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Empella Czech Team||0:02:02|
|17||Ritchie Denolf (Bel) Cyclingchamps||0:02:04|
|18||Gerry Druyts (Bel) Rock Werchter-Chocolade Jacques C.T.||0:02:13|
|19||Rinze De Proost (Bel) Off Road Club Bmx 2000 Dessel Vzw||0:02:41|
|20||Zeb Willems (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:03:12|
|21||Niels Koyen (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:03:17|
|22||Kristof Zegers (Bel) Cyclingchamps||0:03:22|
|23||Jan Van Zeebroeck (Bel) Sdc - Rogelli Cycling Team||0:03:32|
|24||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:04:03|
|25||Sonny Volders (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:04:15|
|26||Jens Gys (Bel) Bianchi Nieuwe Hoop Tielen Vzw||0:04:16|
|27||Michaël Peeters (Bel) Kon. Edegem Bicycle Club V.Z.W.||0:04:20|
|28||Niels Beelen (Bel) Scott Usa Cycling Team||0:05:08|
|29||Jonas De Boey (Bel) Sdc - Rogelli Cycling Team||0:05:15|
|30||Vincent Van Hooste (Bel) Asfra Racing Team||0:05:18|
|31||Sieën Veestraeten (Bel) Sport En Steun - Leopoldsburg||0:05:33|
|32||Zeb Veestraeten (Bel) Sport En Steun - Leopoldsburg||0:05:38|
|33||Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Kon. Vc ´T Meetjesland - Knesselare||0:05:40|
|34||Wim Thijs (Bel) Kon. Edegem Bicycle Club V.Z.W.|
|35||Gregory Franckaert (Bel) Asfra Racing Team||0:05:42|
|36||Raf Risbourg (Bel) W.A.C. Team Hoboken (Kon.) V.Z.W.||0:06:14|
|37||Kenny Maes (Bel) De Toekomstvrienden Baal||0:06:29|
|38||Klaas Vankersschaever (Bel)||0:06:30|
|39||Stijn Mortelmans (Bel) Palmans-Cras|
|40||Niels Dirikx (Bel) Heylen Meubelcentrale Zlwc St.Truiden||0:07:21|
|41||Thomas Verbeek (Bel) De Kastelse Durvers V.Z.W.||0:07:48|
|42||Rutger Lahaye (Bel) Hageland Cycling Team|
|43||Wim Allary (Bel) Kon. Vc ´T Meetjesland - Knesselare|
|44||Kristof Scheirs (Bel) Isorex Cycling Team|
|45||Kenneth Goossens (Bel) Jonge Rakkers Vollezele|
|46||Joachim Janssens (Bel) Cyclocrossteam Freddy Sport Dilbeek|
|47||Jonas Plasschaert (Bel) Cycling Team Pajot Vzw|
|1||Sanne Cant (Bel) Team Ciclismo Mundial||0:35:28|
|2||Joyce Vanderbeken (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam Vzw||0:00:49|
|3||Ellen Van Loy (Bel) Emversport International Cycling Team Vzw||0:00:55|
|4||Loes Sels (Bel) Afdeling Antwerpen - Wbv||0:01:20|
|5||Ludivine Henrion (Bel) Redsun Cycling Team||0:01:29|
|6||Nancy Bober (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam Vzw|
|7||Nicolle De Bie-Leyten (Bel) Avb - Cycling Team||0:01:33|
|8||Katrien Vermeiren (Bel) Emversport International Cycling Team Vzw||0:02:00|
|9||Anne Arnouts (Bel) Redsun Cycling Team||0:02:04|
|10||Karen Verhestraeten (Bel) V.Z.W. Royal Antwerp Bicycle Club||0:02:26|
|11||Ilse Vandekinderen (Bel) Bikesport - Probike Racing Team||0:04:33|
|12||Katrien Van Looy (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Thompson Ladies Team||0:04:37|
|13||Katrien Thijs (Bel) Kon. Edegem Bicycle Club V.Z.W.||0:04:38|
|14||Kristien Nelen (Bel) Goeman Scott Cycling||0:05:07|
|15||Kim Van Renterghem (Bel) Cycling Team M. Pinte||0:07:29|
|16||Laure Werner (Bel) Redsun Cycling Team||0:08:14|
|17||Marijke De Pauw (Bel) Wk Noord West Brabant|
|18||Sharon Defoor (Bel) Sdc - Rogelli Cycling Team||0:08:50|
|19||Katrien Aerts (Bel) Benelux Team||0:09:52|
|20||Sarah Vloemans (Bel) Wielerclub De Sprinters Malderen|
|1||Nathalie Nijns (Bel) Benelux Team||0:29:06|
|2||Steffy Van Den Haute (Bel) Afdeling Oost-Vlaanderen Wbv - Vzw||0:00:04|
|3||Elise Marchal (Bel) Super Bikers Ecole Vtt||0:00:50|
|4||Valerie Boonen (Bel) De Kastelse Durvers V.Z.W.||0:00:51|
|5||Larisa Jaspart (Bel) Lotto-Predictor-Vc Ardennes||0:01:42|
|6||Jessy Druyts (Bel) Dcm-Gb Vorselaar Cycling Team Vzw||0:01:49|
|7||Caren Commissaris (Bel) W.A.C. Team Hoboken (Kon.) V.Z.W.||0:02:49|
|8||Celine Van Severen (Bel) Tieltse Rennersclub||0:03:49|
|9||Shana Maes (Bel) Dcm-Gb Vorselaar Cycling Team Vzw||0:04:36|
|10||Maaike Lanssens (Bel) Wc De Molenspurters Meulebeke||0:05:06|
|11||Caitlyn La Haye (Bel) Hageland Cycling Team||0:05:38|
|12||Femke Lanssens (Bel) Wc De Molenspurters Meulebeke|