After his horrible ride in Ronse, Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) bounced back with an impressive solo win on a dry and fast course at the Jaarmarktcross in Niel, Belgium, on Friday afternoon. The 35-year-old held off a comeback from young Belgian champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) to grab his fourth win of the season and his fourth career victory next to the Rupel river.
The in-form Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) was unable to keep up with Albert during the second half of the race. In the end Pauwels got rid of a remarkably strong French youngster, Matthieu Boulo (Club Roubaix-Lille Métropolle) to take the final podium spot.
“This might’ve looked easy but it certainly wasn’t like that. This course will never suit me and those fast courses will never be my cup of tea. When I heard Niels was coming back I rode a pace which I could maintain for the full hour. I also kept in mind to have something left for a sprint,” Nys told Sporza.
Yorben Van Tichelt (KDL-Trans) was spotted jumping over a ditch during the junior men’s race, but in the elite men category only Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) dared to take the risk. “Hm, maybe if I were his age. Now I realize that making a mistake could cost a lot of seconds,” Nys said.
Runner-up Albert had the same in mind in his comeback ride. “There was one time that I had so much speed that I planned to jump but then I thought about the consequences of a crash. If this had been a championships or a series round I’d have done it,” Albert said.
Early on it didn’t seem like the big guns would have their say in this Fidea cyclo-cross classic. The young wolves had their go, and after two laps Boulo was leading the race with 13 seconds on a massive chase group in which sub-toppers like Polish champion Mariusz Gil (Baboco) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet) took the initiative.
In the following lap Albert punctured and he dropped out of the top 20, while Sven Vanthourenhout chased Boulo at 16 seconds, together with his cousin Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus). Gil set up a second chase group at 20 seconds, with Nys playing the perfect teammate on his wheel. The peloton behind them offered them a handful of seconds but it ended up being a decisive gap.
“The chase group fell apart and I followed Gil to protect Sven Vanthourenhout. I thought it was up to Kevin Pauwels to launch the chase on Boulo, but suddenly I was alone with Gil and they shouldn’t have done that,” Nys said.
Nys started leading the chase on Boulo during the fourth of ten laps, and by the end of it he bridged up with the 22-year-old Frenchman. Behind the duo Sven Vanthourenhout was performing stoppage work, which resulted in the leaders having 20 seconds on the first chase group.
A solo attempt from Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) included a spectacular jump over the ditch. It didn’t get Meeusen much closer to the leaders though. At the front end Boulo was dropped by Nys and Sven Vanthourenhout, Albert, Pauwels, Gil and Aurélien Duval bridged up with Meeusen though trailing Nys by 28s halfway the race. This was the moment for Albert to start his comeback.
“It’s too bad [that I had the flat tire]. By the time I led the chase group we were half a minute down on Nys. I came back to 10 seconds but closing those final 10 seconds was a bit over the top,” Albert said on Sporza.
The Belgian champion roared back and dropped Gil, Duval and Meeusen in the sixth lap. Only Pauwels was able to keep up until they bridged up to Boulo in the seventh lap. By the end of the lap Albert steamed through to 15 seconds from Nys, while Pauwels and Boulo trailed by eight more seconds.
When Albert notched five more seconds off the gap in the eighth lap it seemed like the two giants might come together in the final laps. Then Nys clocked the fastest lap time of the race during the penultimate lap and Albert bounced a couple of seconds backwards. The race was decided and Nys rolled on to his third consecutive win in Niel, with Albert runner-up ahead of Pauwels and Boulo. Meeusen was best of the rest at 1:08 from Nys. Gil was fifth, ahead of that second surprising strong French rider Aurélien Duval. The latter returns from a two-year suspension for the use of norfenfluramine in the Circuit Franco-Belge in 2009.
Sven Vanthourenhout was eighth, ahead of fast starter Marcel Meisen (BKCP-Powerplus) and Tom Van Den Bosch (AA Drink/Leontien.nl). American rider Jonathan Page was said to be having problems with his electronic derailleur and he eventually abandoned the race.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:58:08|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:22|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:00:38|
|4||Mathieu Boulo (Fra)||0:00:49|
|5||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:05|
|6||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team|
|7||Aurélien Duval (Fra)|
|8||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:01:12|
|9||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:25|
|10||Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)|
|11||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Leontien.nl Pro||0:01:36|
|12||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:56|
|13||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.|
|14||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:02:00|
|15||Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|16||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) KDL-Landbouwkrediet|
|17||Micki van Empel (Ned)|
|18||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|19||Laurens Sweeck (Bel)||0:02:56|
|20||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team|
|21||Kevin Cant (Bel)||0:03:34|
|22||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb Revor|
|23||Geert Wellens (Bel)|
|-1lap||Yannick Mayer (Ger)|
|-1lap||Dries Pauwels (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace - cycling team|
|-2laps||Emil Olsen (Den)|
|-3laps||Stijn Mortelmans (Bel)|
|-3laps||Rudy Kowalsky (Fra)|
|-4laps||Camille Dubois (Fra)|