The big crowds along the Rupel dikes in Niel, Belgium witnessed a demonstration from Belgian champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA-Drink). Nys is now the record holder with six wins in Niel, currently part of the Soudal Classics cyclo-cross series. It's also his fourth win of the season.
On the extremely technical course Nys found no opposition other than his shadow casted by a pleasant Autumn sun. Nearly a minute behind Nys young Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) was a classy runner-up ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).
“I’m enjoying good form and I’m always in the mix for the win,” Nys said to Sporza.
Sunday’s winner of the Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde, Tom Meeusen managed a great start by jumping the barriers but he quickly faded. At the slippery off-camber section on the dikes of the Rupel Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and Sven Nys surged forward. The duo continued their efforts on the running sand section and collected a 15s gap on first chaser Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) in no time. Nys was able to maintain the fast pace during the second lap while Van Kessel had to shift back. A solo cyclo-cross demonstration of nearly eight laps was not overly exciting but still impressive performance.
“I rode at a pace that I could maintain for one hour. That’s not easy, it’s a challenge,” said Nys. “I had good legs and love courses where anything can happen. It was a technical course but very open, you can pass anywhere. It was a long race with a headwind on the road. They were sharing the work and it was half a minute for a long time. A mistake could cut 15s out of a gap.”
In the battle for second place Van Aert and Pauwels were facing each other. The duo rode together for most of the race but in the final laps Van Aert seemed stronger. Pauwels crashed in a fast corner, Van Aert went over the handlebars on the off-camber section but eventually he held off Pauwels. After capturing the European title in the Men Under 23 category on Saturday the young Belgian rider opted to skip the Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde amongst the Elite Men on Sunday. In that way Van Aert aims to remain fresh throughout the season.
“You never know what the impact would be but it turns out well. I didn’t have a great start but quickly moved to the front. Fighting for the win wasn’t possible as I kept making mistakes on the off-camber section,” Van Aert told Sporza.
Third placed Kevin Pauwels felt third place was the best possible result in Niel. “The course didn’t suit me with the off-camber and the sand section. Wout was better than me,” said Pauwels
German champion Philipp Walsleben was a distant fourth but still well ahead of the rest of the field. Dieter Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) won the battle for fifth place, holding off Rob Peeters (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Sven Vanthourenhout (Crelan-AA-Drink) and Swiss rider Julien Taramarcaz (Corendon-KwadrO). Pre-race favourites Tom Meeusen and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) finished far below par. Together with the absent top riders they and were clearly focusing on the more important upcoming races of Gavere on Sunday and the World Cup round in Koksijde next week.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|4||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team|
|5||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|6||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team|
|7||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team|
|8||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Corendon - KwadrO Cycling Team|
|9||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|10||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|11||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|12||Michael Boros (Cze) CEZ Cyklo Team Tabor|
|13||Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team|
|14||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|15||Corné Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team|
|16||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team|
|17||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team|
|18||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|19||David Van der Poel (Ned) BKCP - Powerplus Cycling Team|
|20||Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Cycling Team Zemst VZW|
|21||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|22||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|
|23||Niels Koyen (Bel) CCN - Metalac Cycling team|