Cyclo-cross World Cup Koksijde: Sven Nys takes thrilling victory

39-year-old claims 50th World Cup win after dramatic duel with Wout Van Aert

After a three-year drought, Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) finally captured his 50th Cyclo-cross World Cup victory in the sand of Koksijde, Belgium.

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) TeamResult
1Sven Nys (Bel)1:02:39 
2Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental0:00:04 
3Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp-Corendon0:01:06 
4Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - Alpecin0:01:12 
5Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Murprotec0:01:19 
6Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:01:31 
7Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:01:34 
8Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:46 
9Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:02:00 
10Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) Era Real Estate - Murprotec0:02:06 
11Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:02:27 
12Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental0:02:43 
13Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:03:10 
14Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental0:03:15 
15David Van Der Poel (Ned) Bkcp-Corendon0:03:31 
16Jens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental0:03:42 
17Marcel Meisen (Ger)0:04:07 
18Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era Real Estate - Murprotec0:04:17 
19Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:04:28 
20Michael Boros (Cze) Bkcp-Corendon0:04:31 
21Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling0:04:35 
22Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:04:36 
23Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Bkcp-Corendon0:04:47 
24Ian Field (GBr)0:04:57 
25Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team0:05:03 
26Marcel Wildhaber (Swi) Scott-Odlo Mtb Racing Team0:05:28 
27Stan Godrie (Ned) Rabobank Development Team0:05:36 
28Ibanez Ruiz De Larrinaga (Spa)0:05:48 
29Simon Zahner (Swi)0:05:59 
30Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Cyclingteam Jo Piels0:06:15 
31Steve Chainel (Fra)0:07:27 
32Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Bkcp-Corendon0:08:16 
33Mariusz Gil (Pol)-1 
34Radomir Simunek (Cze) Era Real Estate - Murprotec  
35Josep Betalu (Spa)  
36Severin Saegesser (Swi)  
37Matej Lasak (Cze)-2 
38Vladimir Kyzivat (Cze)  
39Alois Falenta (Fra)  
40Kenneth Hansen (Den)  
41Mark Mcconnell (Can)  
42Michael Van Den Ham (Can)-3 
43Gusty Bausch (Lux)  
44Michal Malik (Cze)  
45Sascha Weber (Ger) Cct P/B Champion System  
46Jack Clarkson (GBr)  
47Garry Millburn (Aus)-4 
48Maximilian Holz (Ger)  
49Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita) Merida Italia Team  
50Robert Marion (USA)  
51Glen Kinning (Irl)  
52Kristaps Kipurs (Lat)-6 
DNFMichael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling  
DNFVojtech Nipl (Cze)  
DNFTomas Paprstka (Cze)  
DNFCameron Jette (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing  

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