World champion Zdenek Stybar (Fidea-Telenet) continued his early-season winning streak with a fourth victory in Ruddervoorde, Belgium, where he grabbed the Superprestige Series opener.
In sunny and dry weather conditions the Czech cyclo-cross star didn’t waste any time in distancing his competition. Only a surprisingly strong Bart Aernouts (Rabo-Giant) was able to keep up with the world champion on the fast but technical course.
The Czech-Belgian duo didn’t allow any riders to return to the front and soon it was clear they would battle for the victory. Aernouts went all-in during the penultimate lap, but once Stybar bridged back up the Belgian’s race was over.
During the last lap Stybar gapped Aernouts in the technical section and rode on towards his fourth victory of the season. Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) bounced back from last week’s off-day in Namur to win the battle for the remaining podium spot ahead of Steve Chainel (Bouygues Telecom) and Bart Wellens (Fidea-Telenet).
Local hero Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Revor) was fifth ahead of Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), who rode a good comeback race in Ruddervoorde.
"I'm a bit surprised that I could win today because I have a hard week of training behind me," said Stybar. "It's the first fast course I've ridden on this year." The Czech was particularly pleased by the condition of his world champion's jersey. "It was sunny and the jersey is still nice and white. It's not dirty so we don't have to do a lot of washing this evening. What more can one ask for," he joked.
A impressive field of 54 riders lined up in Ruddervoorde and among them was Niels Albert who made his return from injury. Clearly Albert had no intention of holding back as he took the hole shot in Ruddervoorde.
At that same time local rider Klaas Vantornout had hopes for a win in front of his home crowd ruined when he was forced into the barriers. Meanwhile, Stybar took the lead on the twisting course. Teammates Aernouts and Gerben de Knegt marked the Czech's wheel and suddenly found themselves distancing the rest of the field.
De Knegt quickly dropped back but Aernouts and Stybar built a 12 seconds lead after one lap. The duo kept extending their advantage during the next lap and gathered twenty seconds on a group led by Martin Zlamalik (Sunweb-Revor).
Belgian champion Sven Nys accelerated during the third lap and he got back to fifteen seconds from the leaders. "Then one of my spokes cracked and my wheel was out of balance," Nys said. He switched bikes and ended up riding in a chase group with Sven Vanthorenhout (Sunweb-Revor) and Albert.
The trio didn't get any closer on the leaders and during the fifth lap Bart Wellens, Kevin Pauwels, De Knegt and Chainel joined the first chasers at half a minute from Stybar and Aernouts. One lap later De Knegt was confronted with a broken derailleur right after the pit during the sand pit, forcing the Dutchman to pull out of the race. With four laps to go Nys went well through the sand and forced the other chasers to play their cards. Chainel brought everybody but Pauwels back with Nys.
Once Nys was caught, Wellens pleased his fans when he led the chase group. His efforts caused the chase group to split. Albert and Sven Vanthourenhout got dropped but once Wellens noticed Nys and Chainel weren't planning to share the work in front the five chasers got back together. Meanwhile Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) bounced back from a bad start and the American got back into the second chase group with Zlamalik and Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) at twenty seconds from the Nys-group, riding for ninth place.
In front, Stybar and Aernouts worked well together to maintain a lead of thirty to forty seconds. During the penultimate lap Aernouts powered through the long sand pit on his bike while the Czech dismounted and ran the last half, putting the world champion on the defensive. "He tried really well and he actually surprised me as I couldn't ride through the sand," Stybar said of Aernouts. "Then he quickly had a big gap which wasn't easy to close down.
"Once I was back in front I went as fast as possible to the technical part of the course. I figured it was the ideal moment to attack because he would be tired," Stybar said. He was right, and the reigning world champion went on to win with a lead of five seconds on a content Aernouts. Much further back Nys made it a long sprint and he hit the home straight with a minor gap over Chainel, grabbing third place. "Once I realized I wouldn't come back to the leaders I focused on third place. That succeeded so I'm happy," Nys declared.
The battle for ninth place turned into a mass-event as Page, Zlamalik and Dieter Vanthourenhout were joined by Vantornout, Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea), Enrico Franzoi and Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea). "I easily distanced the others in the last lap. That showed how much I had left," Vantornout stated after the race.
Page finished at the back of this group in fifteenth place. "There was one lap too much for me today. Zlamalik and Vanthourenhout didn't want to ride and once we were caught it was clear the others were more fresh than me," Page said.
The Superprestige series will continue on October 31 in Zonhoven, Belgium.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:59:38|
|2||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||0:00:05|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:00:47|
|4||Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||0:00:48|
|5||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:54|
|6||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:00:59|
|7||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:02|
|8||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:22|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:01:27|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:36|
|11||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:40|
|12||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus|
|13||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus|
|14||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|15||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike|
|16||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Sunweb Revor||0:01:57|
|17||Christian Heule (Swi) Team Zeitfahren La Brevine||0:02:13|
|18||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL-Trans||0:02:23|
|19||Françis Mourey (Fra) Francaise des Jeux||0:02:34|
|20||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||0:02:55|
|21||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:02:56|
|22||Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) AA Drink Cycling Team|
|23||Marco Bianco (Ita)|
|24||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)|
|25||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team|
|26||Patrick van Leeuwen (Ned)||0:03:10|
|27||Nicolas Bazin (Fra)||0:03:13|
|28||Ian Field (GBr)||0:03:22|
|29||Petr Dlask (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|30||Ben Berden (Bel) Qin Cycling Team||0:03:27|
|31||Romain Villa (Fra)|
|32||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:03:40|
|33||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:04:15|
|34||Kevin Cant (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace - cycling team||0:04:27|
|35||Robert Gavenda (Svk) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:04:31|
|36||Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Team Mooserwirt Ridley Bike's||0:04:35|
|37||Rudi van Houts (Ned)||0:04:42|
|38||Florian Le Corre (Fra)||0:05:05|
|39||Steven De Decker (Bel) Flemish Cycling Projects||0:05:35|
|40||Mitchell Huenders (Ned) AA Drink Cycling Team||0:05:38|
|41||Gianni Denolf (Bel) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||0:05:42|
|42||Rikke Dijkxhoorn (Ned)||0:05:50|
|43||Björn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier Versluys Beachbikers Team Vzw||0:06:03|
|44||Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Van Goethem - Prorace - cycling team||0:06:17|
|45||Sascha Weber (Ger) Stevens Racing Team||0:06:28|
|46 -2 laps||Wilant van Gils (Ned)|
|47 -4 laps||Bram Schmitz (Ned)|
|48 -6 laps||Caballero Candelas (Spa)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||15||pts|
|2||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||14|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||13|
|4||Steve Chainel (Fra) Bbox Bouygues Telecom||12|
|5||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||11|
|6||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Revor||10|
|7||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||9|
|8||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||8|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor||7|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||6|
|11||Enrico Franzoi (Ita) BKCP-Powerplus||5|
|12||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||4|
|13||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||3|
|14||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||2|
|15||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||1|