It took a long time but world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step Cycling Team) finally captured his first big win of the season after three minor ones. On the extremely fast course in Zogge the Czech blasted away from his Belgian rivals halfway the race and managed to bring the win home.
"I'm over the moon for this victory. It has always been close the last few weeks but there was always someone better. Nevertheless I felt that every weekend it was going better. I have no specific goals this season because I just want to enjoy cyclo-cross. During the last lap I was all smiles and had goose bumps. It's unbelievable to realize that thousands of people are applauding you," Stybar said.
An in-form Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) was unable to hand his team manager and race organizer Jurgen Mettepenningen the victory. Pauwels won the sprint for second place from Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet). Niels Albert remains the overall leader of the Superprestige series after three rounds after claiming fourth on the day.
During the first half of the race it became clear that creating gaps on the fast course in foggy weather wasn't easy. Stybar, Nys and Albert had a go in front but when arriving on the finishing straight they all looked back and asked somebody else to do the work on the asphalt. No volunteers were found so each time the pace dropped on the road, allowing riders to bridge back up and create a peloton of about twenty riders.
During the fifth lap Pauwels led the pack through the soggy Zogge meadows that were stacked with stairs and fly-overs. When arriving at the finishing straight, Pauwels' efforts created a small lead together with Nys, Meeusen and Stybar.
This time Nys kept the pace high but when arriving back into the meadows Stybar blasted away. The Czech hammered through the twisting course at high speed while the chase behind wasn't picked up by any of the mainly Belgian chasers. "It wasn't up to me to close the gap," was the reaction from both Nys, Pauwels and Albert after the race.
Stybar realized it was the winning move. "Sometimes you have to go and try. I knew that it [tactical cease-fire] was going on behind me. If you have 15 seconds on a course like this it's difficult to be caught back," Stybar said. By the end of the sixth lap Stybar led the race with 21 seconds on a group of 17 riders.
The big guns in the chase group remained quiet during the following lap and Stybar added ten more seconds to his lead. Nys increased the speed in the following lap and the veteran slipped away together with Belgian champion Albert. Still, the duo didn't get a single second closer, not even when Stybar switched bikes because of a loosening brake.
In the background Pauwels was too far back when Albert and Nys launched their counter-attack but during the eighth lap the Sunweb rider bounced back and bridged up. With three more laps to go Stybar led the race with 26 seconds on the Belgian trio Nys, Albert and Pauwels. "That's when I thought that I wouldn't make it. I'd been going at 100 percent for two laps in a row; I was dead-empty," Stybar said.
Nevertheless Stybar stood tall and the jubilating Czech brought the win home. In the chase group Pauwels led the debates and his pace was too fast for Albert. "I lost a fraction of a second when clicking in my pedals and couldn't close that gap right away. By that time it was over for me. Fourth was good enough as I knew I wouldn't be losing much ground on Nys in the overall classification," Albert said.
In the sprint for second place Pauwels had no trouble to keep off Nys at 9 seconds from winner Stybar. Radomir Simunek (BKCP-Powerplus) popped out as best of the rest by winning the sprint for fifth place from Bart Aernouts (Rabobank–Giant - Offroad Team) at 33 seconds.
Small groups kept rolling in at short distance from each other. British rider Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) rode a steady race at the back of the first big group. "That was incredibly fast," Field stated after rolling across the line in 22nd place. US rider Jonathan Page (Planetbike) continued his series of poor performances as he once again didn't finish the race in Zogge.
In the overall standings Albert leads with 42 points. He lost one point in favour of runner-up Nys who now sits three points behind the Belgian champion; Stybar is third at five points. The next round of the Superprestige series is held next week in Gavere.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team||1:04:20|
|2||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:09|
|3||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet|
|4||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:31|
|5||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:33|
|6||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team|
|7||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||0:00:41|
|8||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco|
|9||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|10||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||0:00:49|
|11||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet|
|12||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||0:00:51|
|13||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl|
|14||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:00:59|
|15||Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam|
|16||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:01:05|
|17||Thijs Al (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl|
|18||Aurelien Duval (Fra) U.V.Aube|
|19||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) WV Schijndel|
|20||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team|
|21||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:01:37|
|22||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles|
|23||Eddy Van IJzendoorn (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||0:01:45|
|24||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor|
|25||Jiri Polnicky (Cze) Sunweb-Revor|
|26||Tom Van Den Bosch (Bel) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||0:01:53|
|27||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet - KDL||0:02:10|
|28||Romain Lejeune (Fra) U.V.Aube||0:02:15|
|29||Matthieu Boulo (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole||0:02:25|
|30||Stijn Huys (Bel) Orange Babies|
|31||Toon Devenyns (Bel)|
|32||Bart Hofman (Bel)|
|33||Thomas Vernaeckt (Bel) Willems Veranda - Accent||0:02:37|
|34||Kevin Cant (Bel) Van Goethem||0:02:44|
|35||Geert Wellens (Bel)||0:02:56|
|36||Florian Le Corre (Fra)||0:03:55|
|37||Kobus Hereijgers (Ned) WV Schijndel|
|38 (-2 laps)||Patrick Bassez|
|DNF||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team|
|DNF||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|DNF||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles|
|DNF||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Eddy Merckx-Indeland|
|DNF||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|DNF||Steven De Decker (Bel)|
|DNF||Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) TWC De Kempen|
|DNF||David Quist (USA)|
|DNF||Nicolas Bazin (Fra) Team Big Mat-Auber 93|
|DNF||Kristof Zegers (Bel)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||42||pts|
|2||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||39|
|3||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quickstep Cycling Team||37|
|4||Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||32|
|5||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||31|
|6||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||30|
|7||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet-Fidea||25|
|8||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||23|
|9||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP-Powerplus||18|
|10||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus||17|
|11||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||12|
|12||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet||10|
|13||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||8|
|14||Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ|
|15||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|16||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Team AA Drink-Leontien.nl||7||pts|
|17||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||5|
|18||Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||4|
|19||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet-Fidea|
|20||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||2||pts|
|21||Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Style & Concept Cycling Team|
|22||Mitchell Huenders (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam||1|