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.
“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||Row 0 - Cell 3|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:00:02||Row 1 - Cell 3|
|3||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:00:12||Row 2 - Cell 3|
|4||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:00:29||Row 3 - Cell 3|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||0:00:42||Row 4 - Cell 3|
|6||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||0:00:51||Row 5 - Cell 3|
|7||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:16||Row 6 - Cell 3|
|8||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:01:22||Row 7 - Cell 3|
|9||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||0:02:06||Row 8 - Cell 3|
|10||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:02:21||Row 9 - Cell 3|
|11||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||0:02:29||Row 10 - Cell 3|
|12||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:42||Row 11 - Cell 3|
|13||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||0:02:44||Row 12 - Cell 3|
|14||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||0:02:45||Row 13 - Cell 3|
|15||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||Row 14 - Cell 2||Row 14 - Cell 3|
|16||Arnaud Grand (Swi) Telenet - Fidea||0:02:49||Row 15 - Cell 3|
|17||Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||0:02:55||Row 16 - Cell 3|
|18||Joeri Adams (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:04||Row 17 - Cell 3|
|19||Aurelien Duval (Fra) UV Aube||0:03:09||Row 18 - Cell 3|
|20||Thijs Al (Ned) Telenet - Fidea||0:03:24||Row 19 - Cell 3|
|21||Ian Field (GBr) Hargroves Cycles-Specialized||0:03:29||Row 20 - Cell 3|
|22||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||0:04:20||Row 21 - Cell 3|
|23||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||0:04:50||Row 22 - Cell 3|
|24||Jonathan Page (USA)||0:05:34||Row 23 - Cell 3|
|25||Dave De Cleyn (Bel)||Row 24 - Cell 2||Row 24 - Cell 3|
|26||Micky van Empel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||0:06:18||Row 25 - Cell 3|
|27||Jimmy Tielens (Bel)||Row 26 - Cell 2||-1lap|
|28||Mariusz Gil (Pol) Baboco||Row 27 - Cell 2||Row 27 - Cell 3|
|29||Radomir Simunek (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||Row 28 - Cell 2||-2laps|
|30||Kevin Cant (Bel)||Row 29 - Cell 2||Row 29 - Cell 3|
|31||Eddy van IJzendoorn (Ned) 36Cycling||Row 30 - Cell 2||-3laps|
|32||Mitchell Huenders (Ned)||Row 31 - Cell 2||-4laps|
|DNF||Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra) Telenet - Fidea||Row 32 - Cell 2||Row 32 - Cell 3|
|DNF||Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||Row 33 - Cell 2||Row 33 - Cell 3|
|DNF||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||Row 34 - Cell 2||Row 34 - Cell 3|
|DNF||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Cyclingteam De Rijke-Shanks||Row 35 - Cell 2||Row 35 - Cell 3|
|DNF||Lubomir Petrus (Cze) BKCP - Powerplus||Row 36 - Cell 2||Row 36 - Cell 3|
|1||Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||30||pts|
|2||Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||28||Row 1 - Cell 3|
|3||Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||25||Row 2 - Cell 3|
|4||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||20||Row 3 - Cell 3|
|5||Bart Aernouts (Bel) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||20||Row 4 - Cell 3|
|6||Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||19||Row 5 - Cell 3|
|7||Bart Wellens (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||16||Row 6 - Cell 3|
|8||Rob Peeters (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||14||Row 7 - Cell 3|
|9||Julien Taramarcaz (Swi) BMC Mountainbike Racing Team||13||Row 8 - Cell 3|
|10||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea||11||Row 9 - Cell 3|
|11||Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus||10||Row 10 - Cell 3|
|12||Thijs van Amerongen (Ned) AA Drink Cyclocross Team||9||Row 11 - Cell 3|
|13||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||6||Row 12 - Cell 3|
|14||Marcel Meisen (Ger) BKCP - Powerplus||5||Row 13 - Cell 3|
|15||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Sunweb-Revor||4||Row 14 - Cell 3|
|16||Twan van den Brand (Ned) Orange Babies Cycling Team||4||Row 15 - Cell 3|
|17||Martin Zlamalik (Cze) Landbouwkrediet-KDL||2||Row 16 - Cell 3|
|18||Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Style & Concept||2||Row 17 - Cell 3|
|19||Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony||1||Row 18 - Cell 3|
|20||Niels Wubben (Ned) Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team||1||Row 19 - Cell 3|
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