On a cold, windy, and wet Sunday afternoon, veteran Nys fought out a breathtaking duel with young World Cup leader Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), which was in the balance right up until the final corner. Van Aert had to bow his head while the crowd was ecstatic to see the mud-clad 39-year-old Belgian rider claim the victory during the third World Cup round of the season.
“It’s awesome,” said Nys. “It’s a great feeling because it’s a victory against the best of the world at the moment. He won so many races with power, with technique, on fast courses, from the beginning of the season up until now. In a really hard race which was cold, muddy and technical, I can win with an acceleration in the final 200-300 metres. That’s crazy in my last season.”
World champion Mathieu van der Poel (BKCP-Powerplus) made his comeback in Koksijde after a six-week break from competition due to a left knee injury. The Dutchman briefly led the race early on before fading back. He managed to win the battle for third place at more than a minute from the Belgian duo. European champion Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) finished fourth.
Van Aert narrowly remains leader in the World Cup standings with 220 points, five more than Nys. Van der Haar lost some ground and trails Van Aert by 20 points.
During the opening lap Nys didn’t seem to be having a great day as he was riding outside the top 10. In front Van der Poel was showing off his rainbow jersey with Van Aert not allowing the Dutchman to ride away too far. Van der Haar briefly got into the mix as well and, while the rain was making the circumstances even more tough at the Koksijde airbase, the three young riders seemed to dominate affairs.
While Van der Haar and Van der Poel faded back Nys was starting to move up. Halfway through the third lap he bridged up alone to the World Cup leader. The gap on the first chasers quickly grew up to half a minute and it was clear the duo in front would battle for the victory. The poorly started Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) took the initiative in this group but nine more riders were still in contention for the final podium spot.
During the fourth and fifth lap Van Aert put the pressure on Nys but the 39-year-old was always able to close the small gaps. Early on in the sixth lap the situation turned around when Van Aert flatted. He needed almost a lap to close the gap on Nys. In the chase group Michael Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) crashed hard in one of the several long sand sections. For a long time he needed medical assistance on site.
Nys took the initiative during the penultimate lap without creating major gaps on Van Aert. After a few strong laps from Pauwels the strongest man in the chase group turned out to be Van der Poel. He surged away from Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Laurens Sweeck (Era Real Estate-Murprotec) and headed for third place.
In the final lap Van Aert rode at his maximum with Nys trying to keep up. Both riders made small mistakes but none proved to be crucial. After the final sand sections the duo still had a deep-mud section before reaching the final corner at the runway. Van Aert was leading until he reached a minor bend where Nys moved up aside him. Side-by-side the duo blasted at full power through the mud. Eventually it was Nys who got the upper hand and reached the final corner first.
Van Aert didn’t have enough left in his tank to make it come down to a sprint. The 21-year-old had to bow his head for the old grandmaster, who released a massive scream of joy when crossing the finish line.
The fourth round of the World Cup is held in Namur, Belgium on December 20.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel)||1:02:39|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental||0:00:04|
|3||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp-Corendon||0:01:06|
|4||Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin||0:01:12|
|5||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Murprotec||0:01:19|
|6||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:31|
|7||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:01:34|
|8||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:01:46|
|9||Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:00|
|10||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Era Real Estate - Murprotec||0:02:06|
|11||Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:02:27|
|12||Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental||0:02:43|
|13||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team||0:03:10|
|14||Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental||0:03:15|
|15||David Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp-Corendon||0:03:31|
|16||Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental||0:03:42|
|17||Marcel Meisen (Ger)||0:04:07|
|18||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Murprotec||0:04:17|
|19||Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:04:28|
|20||Michael Boros (Cze) Bkcp-Corendon||0:04:31|
|21||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling||0:04:35|
|22||Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:04:36|
|23||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Bkcp-Corendon||0:04:47|
|24||Ian Field (GBr)||0:04:57|
|25||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team||0:05:03|
|26||Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team||0:05:28|
|27||Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team||0:05:36|
|28||Ibanez Ruiz De Larrinaga (Spa)||0:05:48|
|29||Simon Zahner (Swi)||0:05:59|
|30||Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels||0:06:15|
|31||Steve Chainel (Fra)||0:07:27|
|32||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Bkcp-Corendon||0:08:16|
|33||Mariusz Gil (Pol)||-1|
|34||Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era Real Estate - Murprotec|
|35||Josep Betalu (Spa)|
|36||Severin Saegesser (Swi)|
|37||Matej Lasak (Cze)||-2|
|38||Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)|
|39||Alois Falenta (Fra)|
|40||Kenneth Hansen (Den)|
|41||Mark Mcconnell (Can)|
|42||Michael Van Den Ham (Can)||-3|
|43||Gusty Bausch (Lux)|
|44||Michal Malik (Cze)|
|45||Sascha Weber (Ger) Cct P/B Champion System|
|46||Jack Clarkson (GBr)|
|47||Garry Millburn (Aus)||-4|
|48||Maximilian Holz (Ger)|
|49||Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) Merida Italia Team|
|50||Robert Marion (USA)|
|51||Glen Kinning (Irl)|
|52||Kristaps Kipurs (Lat)||-6|
|DNF||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling|
|DNF||Vojtech Nipl (Cze)|
|DNF||Tomas Paprstka (Cze)|
|DNF||Cameron Jette (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing|