For the fifth time in his career Sven Nys has won the cyclo-cross race near the North Sea in Middelkerke, Belgium. While temperatures dove under the freezing point and a cold wind tortured the crowds, the weather didn't seem to bother the Belgian champion, who finished solo ahead of Tom Meeusen, the on-form Belgian U23 rider, and Klaas Vantornout.
It's the eighth victory of the season for Nys, but more importantly it was also his third win in five days, boosting his morale just before the all important weeks after Christmas. "These are the heydays of 'cross and a lot of people came over to watch this race although it isn't included in any competition. Due to the absence of Albert and Stybar winning seems normal but it always feels good to do so. If I would have been training I'd have suffered just as much," Nys said.
Nys accelerated during the third lap and the Belgian champion was joined by young Tom Meeusen and Klaas Vantornout. The latter had to let go of the leaders after going over the handlebars.
Nys rode a steady pace and never worried about Meeusen, who had a hard time staying near Nys, and halfway through the race the duo had a huge gap on the first chaser's group: Klaas Vantornout, Jonathan Page, Rob Peeters, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Tom Vandenbosch, Jan Verstraeten, Jan Denuwelaere and Ben Berden.
Meeusen had to let go of Nys with three laps to go but the 21-year-old Belgian didn't fade completely and easily held on to second place. "I'm surprised that after my second place in Antwerp I'm on the podium again with the pro's. I benefitted because Nys caught all the wind and he allowed me to stay with him for a long time; he probably wasn't worried about me," Meeusen told Cyclingnews.
Further back it was Vantornout who stormed away from the other chasers and the Sunweb Projob rider easily rode towards third place, at one minute from winner Nys. "In Kalmthout I rode a perfect race on a similar course but here I made a mistake and went over the handlebars. On one occasion I tried to get back near the front and suddenly I had ten seconds on the others. There were twenty more seconds but to close down that gap on Nys on this course isn't possible," Vantornout told Cyclingnews.
A group of five riders battled for fourth place and it was Dieter Vanthourenhout who won it. After a strong start in which he rode in second place for about a lap, Page finished last of this group. "I ran out of gas towards the end of the race," Page told Cyclingnews.
In previous years Page always did well in Middelkerke with a couple of second places and a fourth place last year. "Compared to those this is reasonably good, especially because it is the fifth day since I flew back from the US which is normally the worst day," Page said.
There were many more US riders at the start in Middelkerke including the Canondale-Cyclocrossworld team's Jeremy Powers, who rode in second place during the first lap before fading back to seventeenth place. Teammate James Driscoll choose different tactics, moving up throughout the race. The 23-year-old battled for tenth place with two younger Belgians and eventually claimed a solid eleventh place.
"This was much better than last year, when I crashed early on with Ryan Trebon," Driscoll told Cyclingnews. On Sunday Driscoll finished 38th in the World Cup of Kalmthout and his performance in Middelkerke surely boosted his confidence.
Team-mate Powers opted not to race in Kalmthout in order to get used to the European clock. "My start was fantastic but suddenly they accelerated and off they went. In the US we ease off once in a while but here it's flat out all the time. But it's good like that, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world right now," Powers told Cyclingnews.
Further back Daniel Summerhill rode a decent race, finishing just ahead of compatriot Brian Matter.
At noon many former riders battled each other in an all-stars race. Coach of the Belgian national team Rudy De Bie won the event, besting his brother and former world champion of 1989 Danny De Bie and Johan Museeuw. The North Sea cross was organized for the 51st time. It began in February 1959 and is the oldest standing cyclo-cross race.
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||1:00:34|
|2||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:16|
|3||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||0:01:00|
|4||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:01:09|
|5||Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago||0:01:15|
|6||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||0:01:18|
|7||Jan Verstraeten (Bel) KDL Trans NV||0:01:20|
|8||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||0:01:25|
|9||Ben Berden (Bel)||0:01:49|
|10||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb-Projob||0:01:54|
|11||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com||0:01:57|
|12||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Rendement Hypo Cyclingteam VZW||0:02:00|
|13||Geert Wellens (Bel) AVB - Cycling Team (Bel) AVB - Cycling Team||0:02:24|
|14||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team (Ita)||0:02:31|
|15||Jempy Drucker (Lux)||0:03:19|
|16||Vinnie Braet (Bel)||0:03:34|
|17||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale||0:03:36|
|18||Gianni Denolf (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:03:54|
|19||Kendric Van Grembergen (Bel) Profel-Prorace Continental Team||0:04:01|
|20||Marco Bianco (Ita) L Arcobaleno Carraro Team (Ita)||0:04:20|
|21||Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team||0:04:47|
|22||Daniel Summerhill (USA) Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin||0:06:12|
|23||Brian Matter (USA) Team Gear Grinder||0:06:26|
|24||Dany Lacroix (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team||0:07:01|
|25||Bjorn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier Versluys Beachbikers Team||0:07:16|
|26||Brecht Lippens (Bel) C.T. Keukens Buysse Knesselare||0:07:36|
|27||Jonathan Bervoets (Bel) Heylen Meubelcentrale Zlwc St.Tru|
|28||Nicolas Le Besq (Fra) A.C Centuloise (Fra)|
|29||Travis Livermon (USA) Champion System/Cannondale|
|30||Khangarid Naran (Mgl)|
|32||Romain Lejeune (Fra) Eseg Douai (Fra)|
|33||Paul Herman (Fra) CL Barlin (Fra)|
|34||Dimitri Corriete (Fra)|
|35||Jeremy Benoit (Fra)|
|36||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing NW/Hagens Berman|
|37||Osmond Bakker (Can)|
|38||Joseph Schmalz (USA) KCCX/Verge|
|39||Justin Lindine (USA) BikeReg.com/Joe's Garage/IF|
|41||Rudy Kowalsky (Fra)|
|42||Eli Regoji (Fra)|
|43||Gareth Whittall (GBr) Beauvale CC (GBr)|
|44||Naranbat Ariunbold (Mgl)|
|45||Matt Brandon (USA)|
|1||Rudy De Bie|
|2||Danny De Bie|
|5||Mario De Clercq|
|6||Paul De Brauwer|
|7||Hans De Clercq|
|8||Eric De Vlaeminck|
|12||Peter Van den Abeele|
|13||Wim De Coninck|
|16||Fons De Wolf|