Cyclo-cross lovers were offered a great spectacle during the second round of the Hansgrohe Superprestige series in Zonhoven, Belgium, when Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) and world champion Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) battled for every inch in a hard-fought finale. Eventually Nys came out on top. The 36-year-old strengthened his lead in the Superprestige series after two rounds.
“It was fantastic to ride here,” Nys told TV-channel Vier. “Every year there’s more people and the sand quarry adds value to the 'cross. Then again, if you see how hard we fought for every second, every bit of space... That’s what people want to see. It’s the riders who make the race.”
The early moves in Zonhoven were opened by Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Revor) and Lars van der Haar (Rabobank-Giant Off-road Team). Their efforts were neutralized once Albert moved to the front in the fourth of ten laps. The world champion got a small gap over Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Revor) and Nys who, until that moment, didn’t mix in with the action up front.
In the chase of Albert it was Nys who worked hardest. Pauwels was on the limit and when diving into the sand quarry he hit a bump and went over the handlebars. In a battle of power and technical skills Nys came out ahead as he closed the gap of seven seconds on Albert by the end of the same fifth lap.
After two fast laps, two slower ones followed and van der Haar managed to bridge up with the two protagonists by the end of lap seven. The first chasers were Julien Taramarcaz (BMC), Bart Aernouts (AA Drink) and Pauwels at 18 seconds.
On lap 8 Nys showed off his skills by nearly riding out of the sand quarry. It created a gap but this time Albert managed to close the deficit halfway through the following lap.
“We were matched to each other as we both had a gap which the other closed down. It was clear that the bell lap would bring the decision. It was a matter of being in the lead at the right moment which was just ahead of the uphill sand section. If I was leading and made a mistake then Albert would have to hop off as well,” Nys said.
What followed was the best bit of cyclo-cross in recent times. Albert managed to sneak through on the inside in the downhill section with deep sand ahead of the left-hand corner leading to the uphill sand section.
“He passed me where I didn’t expect it at all. I was forced off my bike. [...] I tried to put my bike ahead of him but I only got it next to him,” Nys said.
Albert somehow managed to continue riding up the small path on the right side of the course.
“I played all or nothing there. [...] It cracked and clamoured but eventually we both had to run up the hill. Then I was on my limit while Nys had something left in his tank to pass me. That was game over for me,” Albert said. “It’s not a shame to lose against Sven Nys. Too bad it happens quite a lot lately.”
Bart Aernouts was best of the rest, ahead of Pauwels, van der Haar and Taramarcaz.
After winning the first round in Ruddervoorde, Nys's lead in the Superprestige increased to two points over Albert. Pauwels is third at five points behind the Belgian champion.
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||1:01:53|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:02|
|3||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:00:12|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:29|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:00:42|
|6||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||0:00:51|
|7||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:16|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:22|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:02:06|
|10||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:02:21|
|11||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:02:29|
|12||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:42|
|13||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:02:44|
|14||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:02:45|
|15||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team|
|16||Arnaud Grand (Swi) Telenet - Fidea||0:02:49|
|17||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:55|
|18||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:04|
|19||Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube||0:03:09|
|20||Thijs Al (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:24|
|21||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles-Specialized||0:03:29|
|22||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:04:20|
|23||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:04:50|
|24||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:05:34|
|25||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)|
|26||Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||0:06:18|
|27||Jimmy Tielens (Bel)||-1lap|
|28||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco|
|29||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||-2laps|
|30||Kevin Cant (Bel)|
|31||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) 36Cycling||-3laps|
|32||Mitchell Huenders (Ned)||-4laps|
|DNF||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet - Fidea|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony|
|DNF||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor|
|DNF||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam De Rijke-Shanks|
|DNF||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||30||pts|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||28|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||25|
|4||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||20|
|5||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||20|
|6||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||19|
|7||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||16|
|8||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||14|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||13|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||11|
|11||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||10|
|12||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||9|
|13||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||6|
|14||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||5|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||4|
|16||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||4|
|17||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||2|
|18||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||2|
|19||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||1|
|20||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||1|