One day after the much-debated sprint at the third World Cup round in the sandy Koksijde, Belgium between Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor), the duo clashed again. This time it was in muddy Gieten, The Netherlands, during the fifth round of the Superprestige Series, and Nys again emerged as winner. This time there was no discussion on whether or not it was a clean sprint from the 35-year-old Belgian.
"I've endured a lot of emotion in my career, and when you think everything that could happen is behind you, you end up in the eye of a storm like yesterday. You've got those for you, you've got those against you, and then today you get the same rivals and again a sprint. Again, I was the one pulling the longest straw," Nys said.
After crossing the line Nys' nine-year-old son Tibeau was the first to congratulate his winning father. "If the first thing you see after such a discharge is your nine-year-old son, who wants to hug his father - it was one of the most emotional moments in my career," Nys said.
Three men didn't hesitate to stretch their legs on the muddy course in Gieten. Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea), Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Cycling) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) featured in the breakaway. "The presence of (standings) co-leader Stybar in front was a problem, so I took my responsibility and closed the gap," said Nys.
Halfway through the third lap, the comeback from Nys was complete, and there were four leaders in the race. Half a lap later, Pauwels also made his move to bridge, and by the end of the fifth lap, there were five leaders in the race.
Except for the crash by Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) in the first chase group and some pit stops in front, not much happened until the seventh lap of the race. Bart Aernouts (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team) and last year's winner Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) bridged up to the five leaders.
In a race dedicated to his late father, who became world champion on this course, Radomir Simunek Jr (BKCP-Powerplus) barely missed connecting with the lead group and cracked. By the end of the seventh lap, Vantornout accelerated. The pace went up, and Aernouts got dropped again while Vantornout gained six seconds on the five remaining chasers.
With three more laps to go, Nys opened up the throttle and Vantornout was soon caught. Pauwels quickly moved onto Nys' wheel and behind him, Stybar couldn't hold on. The world champion was dropped with Vantornout playing the perfect teammate for Pauwels while Peeters and Meeusen were unable to help Stybar.
"Seventy percent of the race I rode on Gryffo tires which allowed me to save energy although it was harder to get through the corners. Once I had the Rhino tires, I was able to put pressure in the corners and accelerate. You have to come up with something special in these races. That's how I won here in the past too," Nys said.
In the remaining laps, the gap from the two leaders to the four remaining chasers opened up. Nys did all the work on the road while Pauwels did a pull on the road in the headwind. "Nys was simply stronger today. When I did a pull, the speed dropped completely. I didn't feel super today," Pauwels said.
The big gap allowed Nys to play poker with Pauwels in the final hectometers before the road to the finish line. "I knew I had to be in second place, and so did Sven, but Rob [Peeters] returned to us, and he upped the speed again. It allowed me to start in second position which was good for me. Then it was a headwind sprint, and that's not good for me. If he's better than me, I can accept that he beats me. Yesterday that wasn't the case in the sprint but today it was. I'm more than happy with second place," Pauwels said.
Winner Nys unleashed all his horsepower in the sprint and when crossing the line, he shouted with relief. "I think it was was clean line today. He came level with me, but I felt he couldn't keep it. I was sprinting full gas into the headwind. The adrenaline was flowing through my body," Nys said fo the sprint.
Rob Peeters rode full gas right from the start and his impressive race was rewarded with a third place a short distance after the top duo. At the finish line, teammate Meeusen was the first to congratulate his teammate. "It's great to see our team on the podium again and I'm glad for him after the bad times he endured," Meeusen said.
Peeters wasn't selected in the Belgian selection for Koksijde on Saturday and with his performance he showed coach Rudy De Bie that he's a valuable candidate for next week's World Cup round in Igorre, Spain. "I'm frustrated that my mechanical problems cost me my selection. During the first lap, I showed everybody that I would have loved to be there yesterday. My efforts put several men in trouble, and it made them feel their bad legs from yesterday," Peeters said.
Late in the race Peeters came quite close to the duo in front but he fell a few meters short of being able to sprint with them. "They're intelligent enough to see me coming. By then the best was gone for me. This third place is unexpected. Igorre? We'll take it how it comes," Peeters said.
Klaas Vantornout won the sprint for fourth place and he expressed how pleased he was with the muddy course. "Finally there's rain. There were heavy parts, turns and technical sections. That's why I do cyclo-cross. Just before Nys attacked, I had done an acceleration and I was at my limit. Too bad Rob escaped in the end. Hopefully there'll be more mud in the near future," Vantornout said.
The fact that Peeters snuck away in the last lap was also helped by teammate Meeusen. "I lost a lot of energy to bridge up with the leaders. I felt Rob was fresher than me, so I helped him," Meeusen heralded his teammate.
Former co-leader Stybar lost the sprint for fourth place and his sixth place puts him five points down on Nys in the overall classification of the Superprestige Series. "This isn't good. I don't know what is wrong with me. I felt good before the race but in the last 20 minutes I couldn't accelerate, just like in Asper [Gavere], Hasselt and Koksijde. I shouldn't panic as I lack freshness after a tough summer," Stybar said.
Aernouts, Simunek, Dieter Vanthourenhout and home rider Thijs van Amerongen wrapped up the top-10. Neither Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) nor Jonathan Page (Planetbike) left his mark in Gieten.
The next Superprestige round will be held in Diegem, Belgium, on December 23.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||1:01:12|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor|
|3||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:00:06|
|4||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:00:16|
|5||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||0:00:18|
|6||Zdenek Stybar (Cze)||0:00:22|
|7||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||0:00:56|
|8||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:14|
|9||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:21|
|10||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Leontien.nl Pro||0:01:23|
|11||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||0:01:34|
|12||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:01:43|
|13||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.|
|14||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team||0:01:51|
|15||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:16|
|16||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi)|
|17||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet|
|18||Niels Wubben (Ned)|
|19||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team|
|20||Mitchell Huenders (Ned)|
|21||Simon Zahner (Swi)|
|22||Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink/ Leontien.nl Pro||0:02:22|
|23||Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)||0:02:26|
|24||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam de Rijke||0:02:57|
|25||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team||0:03:05|
|26||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:03:24|
|27||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb Revor||0:03:33|
|28||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) KDL-Landbouwkrediet||0:03:35|
|29||Kobus Hereijgers (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|30||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:03:49|
|31||David Kášek (Cze) Cyklo Team Tábor||0:04:09|
|32||Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:04:16|
|33||Jordy Luisman (Ned)||0:05:48|
|-3laps||Roy Van Heeswijk (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team|
|-3laps||Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)|
|-4laps||Bas Stamsnijder (Ned)|
|-6laps||Sebasdtian Sattler (Ger)|
|-8laps||Andre Kip (Ned)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||65||pts|
|2||Zdenek Stybar (Cze)||60|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb Revor||59|
|4||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||53|
|5||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||50|
|6||Klaas Vaantornout (Bel)||45|
|7||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||42|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||40|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||34|
|10||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||26|
|11||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||25|
|12||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||16|
|12||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink/ Leontien.nl Pro||16|
|14||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabo - Giant Offroad Team.||11|
|15||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||10|
|16||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team||9|
|17||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco - Revor Cycling Team||8|
|17||Niels Wubben (Ned)||8|
|19||Steve Chainel (Fra)||7|
|20||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb Revor||5|
|20||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP-Powerplus||5|
|22||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team||4|
|23||Mitchell Huenders (Ned)||1|
|23||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||1|