Sven Nys prevails in Belgian cyclo-cross championships
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nys prevails in Belgian cyclo-cross championships

by Bjorn Haake at 10:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Cyclocross, Race Reports and Results

Sven Nys used his dominant technical skills to win his seventh Belgian cyclo-cross title, ahead of Klaas Vantornout and the young Tom Meeusen. Niels Albert, together with Nys the main favorite, had a dismal day in the snow and landed in ninth place. He at least partially blamed an unbehaved Nys fan for losing crucial time.

Nys pushed his left and right arm in alternating order into the air as it became clear that Vantornout's late attack came up short. Nys had to deal with some pressure before the race. "When I was younger, I think I would have cracked," he told Sporza.

Nys had to struggle more with the difficult conditions than with his rivals. The parcours wasn't too difficult - a lot of tight corners on small paths through the woods, but no running or uphill sections. But a layer of ice and snow made the course treacherous and a right hand bend early in the lap proved decisive.

Just about everyone fell down here. Nys took a spill in a different place. "I made a mistake and crashed. I immediately lost 15 seconds. I also had some trouble putting my chain back on, but I stayed calm."

From there, it was what Nys had already shown all season long: Catching up from behind. "I was able to re-join the chasers and tried to sit on the front, to force them into mistakes." This worked, as Meeusen, Sven Vanthourenhout and Rob Peeters all went down at various times.

Nys hopes to become World Champion, but for now it was all about the national title. "This is a big party for the fans," Nys said.

Albert was less thrilled and blamed an aggressive Nys fan, who pulled Albert down, for losing time. "I am not saying I lost the race because of this, but it was certainly a bad situation." At the time, Albert was sitting behind Vervecken. "Sven was riding very hard at this point." The incident, which happened in a section without TV cameras, was confirmed by several bystanders.

Albert now hopes that Nys will send a message to his fans to keep the fair play on. "It is not up to me to initiate such conversation."

Vantornout slipped away from Meeusen and Peeters in the final and briefly looked like he could get closer to Nys, before the latter stomped on the pedals harder. "I wasn't a favorite," Vantornout said after the race to Sporza. "But I saw that I could ride well here."

He admitted of making some mistakes as well, and he, too, crashed. "But overall I was riding very well technically. I was trying to stay in Nys' wheel for a long time, but he rode very fast. It was difficult to stay behind him."

An easy start

The start was easier for the handful of pros, who were sent out a few seconds ahead of the rest of the elite riders. Like in previous races, Sven Vanthourenhout had a very good start and took off with Meeusen. They were ahead of the chasers with all favorites by less than ten seconds after one lap.

Nys went down in the second lap and his race changed from chasing the two leaders to chasing the main contenders. Vanthourenhout stayed in front, chased by a group of Meeusen (who had crashed in the first lap), Vantornout and Peeters.

Nys and Albert were in a third group, along with Wellens, Dieter Vanthourenhout, Aernouts and Vervecken. But Nys put in his trademark attack and with three laps to go he was only ten seconds behind the lead group, which now consisted of the Fidea duo and Vanthourenhout. Vantornhout had fallen back and was together with Nys, while Albert had already a larger gap to Nys.

With two laps to go, five riders had merged in the front (Meeusen, Peeters, Nys, Vanthourenhout and Vantornout). Meeusen's untimely bike change dropped him out of the front group. Nys was driving the pace and took advantage of his superior technical skills.

As Peeters crashed in the "Fidea" corner (same place where Meeusen had gone down earlier), he further impeded the collective Nys chasing, who led by ten seconds going into the final lap.

Cant wins women's title

Sanne Cant won her first national cyclocross championships in the elite class. After a mistake by her big rival, Joyce Vanderbeken, in the first lap, Cant stormed away and soloed home. Ellen Van Loy finished third.

Cant saw an opportunity early on to decide the race. "I wanted to be first in the off-road section, to be able to ride away early. Apparently, Vanderbeken wasn't so sure and she often looked back," Cant said to Sportwereld. "I saw that she had some fear as we approached the most technical sections."

Cant took advantage quickly. "I knew that sooner or later she would make a mistake. Afterwards it was just a matter of staying concentrated," Cant added.

Vanderbeken and Cant had the best start and immediately put a gap to the rest of the field. Vanderbeken took the early lead, but after the mistake quickly fell back.

More interesting was the fight for the bronze medal between Van Loy, Loes Sels, Nancy Bober, Ludivine Henrion and Nicolle De Bie-Leijten. The five battled hard, but only Van Loy and Sels were strong enough in the final lap to sprint it out for third, in which Van Loy prevailed.

Results men

1.Sven Nys in 59'49"
2.Klaas Vantornout at 3"
3.Tom Meeusen - 5"
4.Rob Peeters - 14"
5.Dieter Vanthourenhout - 39"
6.Bart Aernouts
7.Sven Vanthourenhout - 59"
8. Erwin Vervecken - 1'16"
9. Niels Albert - 1'38"
10. Kevin Pauwels - 1'40"


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