With a last-lap attack on the frozen course around Lake Zilvermeer in Mol it was Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) who surged away from Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) and towards his first Belgian cyclo-cross title, surprising top favourites Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) who finished second and third. World champion Niels Albert finished off the podium in fourth place.
“I still can’t believe it. I don’t win a lot and now I win the Belgian championships,” an emotional Vantornout said after claiming the biggest victory of his career. “I’ve been good all season long and I entered this race with a lot of confidence. Last week I was good on a fast course but due to a chain problem I was furious after the finish and now I’m super happy. It’s unbelievable that I will ride in this tricolor jersey all race long.”
Since the World Cup round in Rome, Italy, last weekend and the Belgian championships the hottest topic in the Flemish newspapers was the discussion about the sand on the course in Mol and the form of Sven Nys.
Right from the start Vantornout launched several attacks. Usually the tall rider tends to fade away towards the end of the race but this time it was different. With the attacks from Vantornout it seemed like the Sunweb-Napoleon Games team was leading out the way for team leader Pauwels but Vantornout explained the team used a different tactic on Sunday afternoon.
“I led a couple of times. First with Rob Peeters and then alone but it was too far to make it to the finish. It was our plan to say that we played out Kevin but we all knew I was good too. I joined every move. In the last lap Peeters passed me and then I went over him again through the inside at a corner. It was on the edge. That technical zone was my strongest section. Afterwards I shifted up and rode away on the power, I didn’t look back. I extended my lead in the running section. Already there I was certain about the win.”
The much-debated form from Sven Nys resulted in a defensive tactic from the defending champion. Most of the race he remained on the wheels from race leaders Vantornout and Niels Albert. Only in the last lap he moved forward but by that time Vantornout was gone.
“I did what I could do but I lost the race mainly on the mental front. I had to wait until the last lap and maybe that was my mistake. Peeters cracked and that’s why the gap was too big. All credit to Klaas because he colored the race. He and Niels were the strongest men today,” Nys said.
World champion Albert was omnipresent in front, in contrast to Nys. Albert tried to set a fast pace on the fast course but it didn’t happen for him in Mol. He crossed the line off the podium, in fourth place.
“In the end Klaas rode away and then the other spots didn’t matter to me. It’s all or nothing at the championships. Due to the freezing cold it was very fast which made it hard to make the difference. I tried a couple of times early on but that was too early. I went again in the penultimate lap in the running section and I got away with Vantornout. I think it could’ve worked out with him. He went very fast. Then later, Peeters wasn’t able to hold Vantornout's wheel but Klaas is the deserved winner. It was an exciting race,” Albert said.
While Vantornout's teammate Pauwels was clearly not feeling good he did play his role in the race. When the pace dropped in front Pauwels bridged back up. During the last lap Pauwels even led the race with Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea). “I felt during the first lap that my back wasn’t good. That’s why I positioned myself at the back. Third wasn’t expected. I knew that Klaas was stronger today. I indicated to him that he needed to come over me because I couldn’t go hard,” Pauwels said.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|12||Kenneth Van Compernolle||0:03:05|