Van Aert wins GP Sven Nys in Baal

Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert (Image credit: Tim de Waele/

Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) won the GP Sven Nys on New Year’s Day with a classic Sven Nys-like raid. Van Aert won with a bonus of more than a minute on runner-up Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink), who waved goodbye to his home race in style. Van Aert also sealed the time-based classification of the Bpost Bank Trophy with his performance on Friday afternoon as second placed Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) only managed a tenth place at 2:09 in Baal.

An emotional Van Aert was pleased he was able to get the win and the overall victory in Baal. “It’s great stuff. Especially the classification is nice because after the World championships I no longer have to worry about it. That’s the second year in a row I’m in this position,” Van Aert told Sporza.

Overnight rain turned the demanding course around the local hill, the Balenberg, into a sticky clay mud-fest. After the opening lap there were no major gaps in front, as riders realized that it was dangerous to go into the red zone on a course like this. European champion Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) was present in front with Belgian champion Klaas Vantornout (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and teammate Gianni Meersman. Kevin Pauwels took a bad start and never featured back into the lead group. On a fast slippery descent with a right-hand turn, Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) narrowly avoided a hard crash despite colliding with the barriers a couple of times.

In front Van der Haar kept riding at a fast pace and only Wout Van Aert was able to close the gap on the Dutch rider. Nys lost a bit of ground late in the opening lap due to a mishap on a short off-camber climb and missed the right move.

At the intermediate sprint Van der Haar picked up the 15 bonus seconds ahead Van Aert and Gianni Meersman, who led his teammates Vantornout and Michael Vanthourenhout at 12 seconds from the two leaders. Nys was a little further back in a group with Aerts and Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and fast starter Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Murprotec).

When Nys crashed during the third lap on the same tricky descent where Aerts nearly crashed during the opening lap, it seemed like he was out of contention for the podium. Nys’ ripped shorts on his right flank showed the signs of the crash and he needed a lap to recover.

Van der Haar, meanwhile, was dropped by Van Aert who managed to ride up obstacles where most other riders were forced to run. Apparently the new Dugast Ernst tubulars were his companion on this demanding terrain whereas Nys preferred Rhino profile. “During the second lap I got into my rhythm. Without an acceleration I rode away from the others. This isn’t a course to stay on the wheels,” Van Aert said.

Van der Haar dropped back into a group with three riders from the Marlux-Napoleon Games team: Meersman, Vanthourenhout and Vantornout. The trio was unable to fight against Van Aert and the gap grew from 17 seconds up to 36 seconds halfway the race. The pace dropped back in this chase group and five more riders bridged up: Nys, Sweeck, Aerts, Van Kessel and Pauwels.

Fierce accelerations from Vanthourenhout and then from Nys made Sweeck and Pauwels bow their heads and drop back for good. On the following laps, Van Kessel and Aerts were dropped but they managed to keep Meersman, Vantornout, Vanthourenhout, Nys and Van der Haar in sight. The seven riders were back together at the start of the final lap, battling for the remaining two podium spots, but some 1:34 behind the leader Van Aert.

Van Kessel went all in early in the final lap with Nys then overtaking his move and powering away. Only Vanthourenhout and Aerts were able to keep up with the 40-year-old Belgian rider. Oddly enough, Aerts, Vanthourenhout and many others switched bikes at the last passage through the pits, losing valuable time.

Nys skipped the pits and only Aerts was able to recover from the lost time. A long time after Van Aert crossed the line the duo hit the finishing straight. Nys exited the final corner first and Aerts sat up, pointing his finger to Nys to pay his respects to his rival on Friday and his future employer – Nys, of course, is taking over the Telenet-Fidea team.

Michael Vanthourenhout won the sprint for fourth place from Vantornout. Meersman was sixth, just ahead of Lars van der Haar who was unable to get in the mix for the podium on the final lap. Van Kessels, Sweeck and Pauwels also finished in the top 10.

With only five minutes and thirty seconds left at stake in the final round of the BPost Trophy it’s impossible for Pauwels to overtake Van Aert, who takes his second overall victory.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team1:00:39
2Sven Nys (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink Team0:01:13
3Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:15
4Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:18
5Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:19
6Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:01:21
7Lars Van Der Haar (Ned) Team Giant - AlpecinRow 6 - Cell 2
8Corne Van Kessel (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:01:36
9Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era - Murprotec0:02:01
10Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team0:02:10
11Diether Sweeck (Bel) Era - Murprotec0:02:19
12Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:02:27
13Julien Taramarcaz (Sui) Era - Murprotec0:02:33
14Rob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team0:02:49
15Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Corendon0:02:57
16Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:03:07
17Joeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team0:03:16
18Tim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling Team0:03:56
19Twan Van Den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team0:04:11
20Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:04:22
21Vincent Baestaens (Bel) BKCP - Corendon0:05:08
22Niels Wubben (Ned) Telenet Fidea Cycling Team0:05:51
23Kevin Cant (Bel) Era - Murprotec0:06:02
24Michael Boros (Cze) BKCP - Corendon0:07:15
25Ivan Gicquiau (Fra)-1 Lap
26Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)Row 25 - Cell 2
27Jeremy Martin (Can)Row 26 - Cell 2
28Miguel Fillaut (Aus)-2 Laps
29Garry Millburn (Ger)-3 Laps
30Yannick Mayer (Ger)Row 29 - Cell 2
31Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Fabian Obrist (Sui)-4 Laps
DNFJan Denuwelaere (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Cycling TeamRow 32 - Cell 2
DNFPatrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
DNFRadomir Simunek (Cze) Era - MurprotecRow 34 - Cell 2
DNFSven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Crelan - AA Drink TeamRow 35 - Cell 2
DNFFlorent Ligney (Fra)Row 36 - Cell 2

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