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Winter wonderland tests 'crossers in Belgium

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner)

Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner) (Image credit: Photopress.be)

An unusually early snow storm turned Sunday's Superprestige cyclo-cross race in Belgium into a bone-chilling hour of suffering for the sport's top riders.

Belgian champion Sven Nys plowed his way to victory in Hamme Zogge ahead of Sunweb-Projob rider Klaas Vantornout. He was clearly fighting numb hands and slippery footing in the final laps of the fourth round of the Superprestige series.

"That last lap was more than I could take. If it would've taken any longer some would have been injured. This is a hard sport, but if you can win in these weather conditions then that makes up for all the efforts," Nys said.

Snow accumulated on the riders' helmets as they traversed a technical course which was a slick combination of thick mud and ice covered obstacles. Riders shook or slapped their hands as they came through the paved section in an attempt to get the blood flowing to their fingers.

Nys stumbled twice on the snow-covered stairs in the final laps, but with a 20 second lead coming into the finale, he succeeded in holding off a strong charge from Vantornout. Saturday's winner Bart Wellens (Fidea) rode a strong final lap to secure third place.

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