Sven Nys won a hard fought sixth round of the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy on New Year's Day at his home race in Baal, Belgium.
The Belgian champion held off Zdenek Stybar after a great last lap battle on home soil, winning his race a ninth time.
World champion Niels Albert struggled on the demanding muddy course but limited damages by finishing third. Nevertheless Albert lost the leader's position in the series, and now trails Nys by three points. Stybar follows at ten points behind Nys with two rounds left to race in February.
The start of the race was marred by a crash in front of the peloton after the first corner. It ruined the chances of Radomir Simunek, Martin Zlamalik and Kevin Pauwels, but all the other big guns escaped the crash.
Stybar created the selection during the second lap, leaving world champion Albert behind and leading the race together with home town favourite Nys. The duo cooperated well and distanced Albert.
During the penultimate lap Nys dropped Stybar but a stumble on the stairs allowed the Czech to return. Nys left Stybar behind again early on during the last lap while plowing through the mud. The Czech champion didn't give up and halfway through the lap, at the second ascent of the local climb and the following dangerously twisting drop, Stybar bridged back up to a struggling Nys.
Once back together it was Stybar's time to make a mistake, offering the Belgian champion a couple of seconds which was enough for the victory.
"I've won here more easily in the past. Everbody's at the end of its cycle. We had two days to recover after Loenhout but that wasn't enough. I feel like I've ridden a stage race, everything hurts," Nys said to Sporza.
Despite designing the course himself and being one of the strongest riders, Nys struggled at the end and made a lot of mistakes. "The course is adding value to 'cross but for the riders it's a nightmare. I'm happy that I could offer thousands of my fellow citizens a great day," Nys said.
Runner-up Stybar had mixed feelings about the race in Baal. "I had great legs today but in the last lap I was at my limit. It's not easy to battle against Nys on such a swampy course.
"I made a mistake during the last lap and he was gone. At the climb I thought that I had him but then I was blinded by the sun and made another mistake, again offering him ten meters," Stybar said.
While Stybar was able to push Nys to the limit, world champion Albert didn't stand a chance. "I started with the intension to win but from the second lap on I realized that it wasn't possible; it became a third place. The three points gap with Nys is nothing. Nothing is lost but now it's all about the championships," Albert said, referring to the fact that the next round of the GvA Trophy is held in February.
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||1:42:44|
|2||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:06|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:46|
|4||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||0:00:57|
|5||Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux||0:01:17|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank||0:01:33|
|7||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor-Baboco Continental Team||0:02:16|
|8||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus||0:02:22|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||0:02:45|
|10||Christian Heule (Swi) RendementhypoCycling Team||0:02:55|
|11||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof||0:03:13|
|12||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:03:34|
|13||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:04:28|
|14||Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||0:04:37|
|15||Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie|
|16||Ben Berden (Bel)||0:05:45|
|17||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||0:05:54|
|18||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne||0:06:01|
|19||Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Baboco Continental Team||0:06:23|
|20||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||0:06:38|
|21||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team||0:06:48|
|22||Bram Schmitz (Ned) Van Vliet - EBH Advocaten - Elshof||0:06:59|
|23||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel||0:07:12|
|24||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||0:07:17|
|25||Magnus Darvell (Swe)||0:08:05|
|26||Ivar Hartogs (Ned) ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida|
|27||Lukáš Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb - Projob Cycling Team||-2 laps|
|28||Gianni Denolf (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||-3 laps|
|29||Brian Matter (USA)||-4 laps|
|30||David Boucher (Fra)|
|31||Keiichi Tsujiura (Jpn)||-5 laps|
|32||Bart Verschueren (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team|
|33||Naranbat Ariunbold (Mgl)|
|34||Boldbaatar (Mgl)||-6 laps|
|35||Gareth Whitall (GBr)|
|1||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||3||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||2|
|3||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||1|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||143||pts|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||140|
|3||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||133|
|4||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank||88|
|5||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank||87|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||85|
|7||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||73|
|8||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||72|
|9||Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team||55|
|10||Radomír Šimunek Ml (Cze) BKCP - Power Plus||51|
|11||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||41|
|12||Mariusz Gil (Pol) LKS Pom Strzelce Krajenskie||32|
|13||Christian Heule (Swi) RendementhypoCycling Team|
|14||Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux||31||pts|
|15||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||30|
|16||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof||27|
|17||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||26|
|18||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne||23|
|19||Ben Berden (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team||20|
|20||Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida||16|
|21||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Team BKCP-Power Plus||15|
|22||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||14|
|23||Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor-Jartazi Continental Team|
|24||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||11||pts|
|25||Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||10|
|26||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team||7|
|27||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV|
|28||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles/Trant/Next/GSI||4||pts|
|29||Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|30||Steve Chainel (Fra) Bouygues Telecom|
|31||Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team||1|
|32||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW|
|33||Bram Schmitz (Ned) Van Vliet - EBH Advocaten - Elshof|
|1||Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||13||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||9|
|3||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||8|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||3|
|5||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank|