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Cagey Nys wins with surprise final attack

The cyclo-cross race in Zonhoven is the latest addition to the Superprestige series, and the demanding, hilly sandy course resulted in a tactical race. Seven riders hit the last lap together, and Klaas Vantornout's skills in the sand seemed like they were going to help him to a victory in the penultimate seventh round of the series, but it was they cagey Belgian champion Sven Nys who grabbed the flowers in the end.

World Champion Zdenek Stybar brought everybody back to Vantornout just before the last ascent of the course. Once the riders reached the uphill portion of the course, Nys unleashed his fury, attacking the others. He carried his momentum all the way to the finish for the victory.

Stybar could not hold on to Nys' wheel and settled for a second place that puts him equal with Niels Albert in the overall classification of the Superprestige series. Kevin Pauwels finished third ahead of Vantornout and Albert.

Eventual winner Nys lost his chances for a 10th overall win in the Superprestige series by pulling out of the race in Diegem back in December. Still he was motivated enough to spoil the party of home team Telenet-Fidea who, had designed the entertaining course in the East of Flanders.

The Belgian champion is using antibiotics to get rid of a cold, but he has been having one of his best weekends of the season. "Yesterday I was really strong, too," said Nys said to TV channel VT4. "Today my experience helped me and though I'm no longer in contention for the overall win in the Superprestige series, I'm more than happy to win here."

"This was one of the most beautiful races of the season and it suited Albert with his time trialling skills. I opted to ride tactically and keep some distance from the leaders. I felt that I could close the gap easily by choosing my own track in the sand," Nys said. Klaas [Vantornout] dared to have a go, but it was too early to keep a lead until the line. I was the strongest in the finale as I was able to drop Stybar purely on power." Nys was all smiles after the finish.

The course in Zonhoven ran up and around a rehabilitated landfill. Riders had to take on a steep drop in the sand followed by a steep sandy run-up twice.

Ten riders led the race after the second lap including Stybar, Albert, Nys, Vantornout, Pauwels, Gerben de Knegt, Bart Aernouts, Sven Vanthourenhout, Radomir Simunek and Jonathan Page. Vantornout launched the first acceleration that caused serious damage in the third lap, and by the end of that lap, he was joined only by Stybar, Albert, Pauwels, Nys and De Knegt. During the fourth lap, Page suddenly lost a lot of ground as he fell from contact with the other chasers who were able to claw their way back toward the leaders' group.

Halfway through the race, Superprestige series leader Albert bounced back from a poor start and accelerated in the second part of the course that featured a long slope. As a result, the leader's group was reduced to four riders featuring Albert, Stybar, Vantornout and Pauwels. Nys and Aernouts returned one lap later when Stybar controlled the speed at the front. A little later, Sven Vanthourenhout and Erwin Vervecken joined leaders, too, creating an eight-man group with three laps to go. Thijs Al, Simunek and De Knegt led the chase at half a minute.

Vantornout seized his moment, realizing the course benefitted his running skills in the sand. During the penultimate lap, he had a gap, but he slid out when in the sand on the second steep drop. Vantornout tumbled down the drop, but his bike was came to rest 10 meters higher, forcing him to run back up the sand to grab his bike. The Sunweb-Revor rider dropped back into fourth position, but one lap later, he was back to try his luck again.

This time he got a five-second gap that seemed enough for the win but on the second part of the course, Stybar powered back towards the Belgian, with Nys, Pauwels and Albert following on Stybar's wheel.

"I knew where I had to go on this course, and I turned out to be the only rider able to create a gap today. When I tried a first time, I went over the handlebars; that cost a lot of energy," said Vantornout to TV channel VT4. "Then I tried again in the last lap, but I lost all of my momentum in the last bit. Normally I would never give away the gap I had, but I lacked the energy to keep it. I'm quite disappointed,"

Nys took profit from Stybar's work and on the last ascent of the long slope, the Belgian champion powered away and gapped the rest of the group. Stybar didn't give in, but there was not enough time left to close the gap before the finish line.

"When Klaas [Vantornout] went, I was able to follow him but I could not get past Stybar. I gambled that he would close the gap because of the points in the overall classification, and it worked. On the last climb it was clear that I had most power left in the legs," Nys said.

World champion Stybar seemed surprised by Nys' move, and he needed a fraction of a second to respond. "I made a mistake on the climb, and then Nys had 10 meters. Despite taking risks through the downhill corners, I could not close it down," Stybar said.

Still, Stybar's second place puts him in the lead of the overall classification of the Superprestige since Albert only managed a fifth place in Zonhoven. The two young riders share the same amount of points, but the rider with the best last result is granted the leader's position.

"It doesn't mean a lot. I need to finish ahead of him in the last race and that will not be easy," said Stybar of his current status as series leader. "Just like in all other competitions this one is close until the last race, too."

Right after the race a very disappointed Albert didn't fancy he had any chances left. "I'm disappointed, which is logical, I think. Yesterday I lost all chances of winning the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, and today I did a bad job, too," said Albert to VT4. "Physically and mentally I'm drained. I don't have fun anymore because I work hard in training, but I can't get to my desired level during the races. I'll have to drag myself toward the end of the season, and that's annoying."

"The course today, with its tough slopes and the running, would was perfect for me... when I'm good. Today, I finished fifth in the sprint among a group of five which isn't a good result. I need to stay away from the bike and rest. Maybe I need to get really drunk."

In the back among the chasers, American Jonathan Page claimed the title of being the best of the rest. He finished ninth. The former US national champion fought his way back into the top-10 after some difficult moments halfway through the race and outsprinted Simunek and Al at the end.

On February 14, the eighth round in Vorselaar will conclude the Superprestige series.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sven Nys (Bel)1:03:19
2Zdenek Stybar (Cze)0:00:01
3Kevin Pauwels (Bel)
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel)
5Niels Albert (Bel)0:00:11
6Erwin Vervecken (Bel)0:00:18
7Bart Aernouts (Bel)0:00:36
8Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)0:01:10
9Jonathan Page (USA)0:01:38
10Radomir Simunek (Cze)
11Gerben De Knegt (Ned)
12Thijs Al (Ned)0:01:58
13Peter Dlask (Cze)0:02:25
14Enrico Franzoi (Ita)0:02:33
15Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)0:02:55
16Ben Berden (Bel)0:03:19
17Mariusz Gil (Pol)0:03:29
18Tim Van Nuffel (Bel)0:03:38
19Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned)0:03:47
20Winant Van Gils (Ned)0:04:56
21Eddy Van Ijzendoorn (Ned)
22JanVerstraeten (Bel)0:05:22
23Tom Vanoppen (Bel)0:05:52
24Martin Zlamalik (Cze)0:06:17
25Geert Wellens (Bel)0:06:31
26Stijn Huys (Bel)0:07:16
27Tom Van den Bosch (Bel)
18Jimmy Tielens (Bel)
-1lapGianni Denolf (Bel)

Under 23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jan Denuwelaere (Bel)0:51:01
2Kenneth Vancompernolle (Bel)
3Rom Meeusen (Bel)0:00:17
4Lars Van der Haar (Ned)0:01:04
5Robert Gavenda (Svk)0:01:28
6Vincent Bastiaens (Bel)0:01:44
7Lubomir Petrus (Cze)
8Michi VanEmpel (Ned)
9Kevin Cant (Bel)0:02:30
10Wietse Bosmans (Bel)
11Kacper Szczepaniak (Pol)
12Kevin Eeckhout (Bel)
13Karel Hnik (Cze)0:03:02
14Mitchell Huenders (Ned)
15Marcel Meisen (Ger)0:03:18
16Vinnie Breaet (Bel)0:04:23
17Arnaud Jouffroy (Fra)0:04:32
18Corne Van Kessel (Ned)0:04:42
19Jelle Braeckman (Bel)0:04:51
20Twan Van den Brand (Ned)0:05:15
21Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol)
22Sven Beelen (Bel)0:05:25
23Kristof (Bel)0:05:36
24Johan Verstraeten (Bel)0:06:00
25Tijmen Eising (Ned)0:06:20
26Dries Pauwels (Bel)0:06:30
-1lapGeert Van der Horst (Ned)
-1lapRitchie Denolf (Bel)
-1lapStijn Mortelmans (Bel)
-1lapJonathan Bervoet (Bel)
-1lapSonny Volders (Bel)
-1lapNiels Koyen (Bel)
-1lapRobin Poelvoorde (Bel)
-1lapDario Stauble (Swi)
-1lapBart Barkhuis (Ned)
-1lapSieën Verstraeten (Bel)
-2lapsRutger La Haye (Bel)
-2lapsSimone Samperisi (Ita)
-2lapsNiels Dirix (Bel)
-2lapsJoachin Janssens (Bel)
-2lapsRaf Risbourg (Bel)

Junior men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David Van der Poel (Ned)0:40:17
2Laurens Sweecckx (Bel)0:00:33
3Jens Adams (Bel)
4Michiel Van der Heyden (Ned)0:00:53
5Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)0:01:08
6Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned)
7Xandro Meurisse (Bel)0:01:19
8Mike Theunisse (Ned)0:01:39
9Jori Hofman (Bel)0:01:43
10Emiel Dolfsman (Ned)0:01:59
11Floris De Tier (Bel)0:02:02
12Tim Merlier (Bel)0:02:36
13Jesper Baelen (Bel)0:02:40
14Jon Ander Insausti (Spa)0:02:56
15Mxim Panis (Bel)0:03:03
16Nicolas Samparisi (Ita)0:03:08
17Dieter Sweeck (Bel)
18Joey Van Rhee (Ned)0:03:48
19Douwe Verberne (Ned)0:03:55
20Timo Verschueren (Bel)0:04:03
21Kenzie Boutté (Bel)0:04:21
22Lorenzo Samparisi (Ita)0:05:13
23Jeffrey Mellemans (Bel)0:05:36
24Lorenzo Pepermans (Bel)
25Matthias Ballet (Bel)
26Nick Van Dijke (Ned)0:06:46
27Jellen Schiettecatte (Bel)0:07:48
28Rogin Van den Bruel (Bel)
-1lapMichael Dhondt (Bel)
-1lapBryan Borowski (Ned)
-1lapOlivier Vandevyver (Bel)
-1lapJoni Geeraerts (Bel)
-1lapRobin Delanghe (Bel)
-2lapsSibe Smets (Bel)
-2lapsStijn Gielen (Bel)
-2lapsAlexander Verslegers (Bel)
-2lapsBirger Vandael (Bel)
-2lapsNiels Verdijck (Bel)
-2lapsRuben Van Dingenen (Bel)
-2lapsBaert Van Dongen (Ned)
-2lapsHendrik Sweeck (Bel)
-2lapsNick Smeers (Bel)

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned)0:32:10
2Yorben Van Tichelt (Bel)
3Daan Soete (Bel)0:00:09
4Koen Weijers (Ned)0:00:44
5Toon Wouters (Bel)0:00:57
6Daan Hoeyberghs (Bel)0:00:58
7Pjotr Van Beeck (Ned)
8Martijn Budding (Ned)
9Matthias Van de Velde (Bel)0:01:20
10Quinten Hermans (Bel)0:01:22
11Gillian Verstreaten (Bel)0:02:30
12Jochen Vervoort (Bel)0:02:55
13Kenny Schellens (Bel)0:03:32
14Patrick Mulder (Ned)
15Kyle De Proost (Bel)0:03:55
16Robbie Van Bakel (Ned)
17Thybo Notredame (Bel)0:04:08
18Jelto Veroft (Bel)
19Jeffrey Jansegers (Bel)0:04:14
20Michiel Van Echelpoel (Bel)0:04:48
21Massimo Vanderaerden (Bel)0:05:04
22Jorne Knockaerts (Bel)
23Thimothy Vanderaerden (Bel)0:05:24
24Stef Goormans (Bel)
25Glenn Vissers (Bel)
-1lapTjendo De Baere (Bel)
-1lapNiels Buysse (Bel)
-1lapDylan Delagrense (Bel)
-1lapJasper De Meyer (Bel)
-1lapYolan Brems (Bel)
-1lapNiels Boons (Bel)
-1lapArnaud Thys (Bel)
-2lapsCaitlyn Lahaye (Bel)
-2lapsLander Vespers (Bel)

Elite men Superprestige Classification after seven rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze)95pts
2Niels Albert (Bel)95
3Sven Nys (Bel)86
4Klaas Vantornout (Bel)78
5Kevin Pauwels (Bel)77
6Bart Aernouts (Bel)61
7Erwin Vervecken (Bel)50
8Gerben De Knegt (Ned)47
9Radomir Simunek (Cze)44
10Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)39
11Enrico Franzoi (Ita)36
12Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel)23
13Rob Peeters (Bel)22
14Philip Walsleben (Ger)19
15JanVerstraeten (Bel)12
16Bart Wellens (Bel)11
17Jonathan Page (USA)9
18Francis Mourey (Fra)7
19Martin Zlamalik (Cze)7
20Thijs Al (Ned)4
21Wilant Van Gils (Ned)3
22Thijs van Amerongen (Ned)3
23Mariusz Gil (Pol)3
24Peter Dlask (Cze)3
25Ben Berden (Bel)2
26Steve Chainel (Bel)2
27Eddy van Ijzendoorn (Ned)1
28John Gadret (Fra)1

Under 23 men Superprestige Classification after seven rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Meeusen (Bel)100pts
2Jan Denuwelaere (Bel)67
3Kenneth Vanccompernolle (Bel)65
4Jim Aernouts (Bel)59
5Michi van Empel (Bel)55
6Robert Gavenda (Cze)54
7Vincent Bastaens (Bel)48
8Kacper Szczepaniak (Pol)45
9Lars van der Haar (Ned)42
10Pawel Szczepaniak (Pol)38
11Stef Boden (Bel)35
12Timen Esing (Ned)24
13Ludomir Petrus (Cze)24
14Arnaud Joffroy (Fra)21
15Joeri Adams (Bel)19
16Mitchel Huenders (Ned)17
17Corné van Kessel (Ned)15
18Wietse Bosmans (Bel)15
19Marcel Meisen (Ger)13
20Kevin Kant (Bel)12
21Elia Silvestri (Ita)11
22Jiri Polnicki (Cze)11
23Kvin Eeckhout (Bel)10
24Pascha Weber (Ger)9
25Sven Beelen (Bel)8
26Twan van den Brand (Ned)8
27Matthieu Boulo (Fra)7
28Marek Konwa (Pol)3
30Karel Hnik (Cze)3
30Vinnie Braet (Bel)1
31Boy van Poppel (Bel)1

Junior men Superprestige Classification after seven rounds
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1David Van der Poel (Ned)86pts
2Mike Theunissen (Ned)84
3Laurens Sweeck (Bel)79
4Michiel van der Heyden (Ned)77
5Gert-Jan Bosman (Ned)69
6Jens Adams (Bel)62
7Danny van Poppel (Ned)50
8Gianni Vermeersch (Bel)45
9Emiel Dolfsman (Ned)45
10Xandro Meurisse (Bel)41
11Jens Vandekinderen (Bel)29
12Tim Merlier (Bel)17
13Mihael Boros (Cze)16
14Emilien Vernet (Fra)15
15Dieter Sweeck (Bel)13
16Matej Lasak (Cze)13
17Jesper Baelen (Bel)12
18Joeri Hofman (Bel)12
19Bart De Vocht (Bel)11
20Jon Insausti (Spa)11
21Douwe Verberne (Ned)9
22Tomas Papstrka (Cze)8
23Floris De Tier (Bel)8
24Stan Godrie (Ned)5
25Jeroen Meijers (Ned)5
26Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel)4
27Frederik Geerts (Bel)4
28Lars Forster (Swi)3
29Dennis Heering (Ned)2
30Lukas Muller (Swi)2
31Daniel Vesely (Cze)1
32Robin Wennekens (Bel)1
33Maxim Panis (Bel)1


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