Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) bounced back from a crash to win the Superprestige round in Diegem on Sunday.
The world champion was alone off the front when he hit the deck on the fourth lap, allowing Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) and Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) to catch up.
Nys took a while to sort himself out, then surged on a short, steep bit that transitioned from pavement to mud. Meeusen stuck with him, but Albert was gapped.
With two to go Nys and Meeusen held a half-dozen seconds on the fading Albert. And then the world champion began slowly riding away from the Telenet rider, opening a small gap that he extended through a long, sandy section leading to a double barrier that all three men were hopping.
Going into the bell lap Nys had six seconds on Meeusen while Superprestige leader Albert was well back, holding grimly to third.
And that’s the way it would stay — Nys began his victory celebration early, waving to the throngs lining the course, then dismounting short of the line and hoisting his bike high while walking across.
Meeusen wheelied across for second while Albert soft-pedaled into third.
“That’s something special, because I raced 15 years with Colnago, and to win over here, on the last day of the cyclocross year, with the new team that’s coming, and in my own province, where I live, 22,000 people at the Christmas period, that’s emotional,” said Nys.
“I had one small crash, because I raced with the normal tires and the others with the Rhinos. I took the risk and that’s maybe one crash too much, but I felt myself the strongest the whole race. It’s not so easy to race on a course like this, one hour in the front, but I did it and that means that I was the strongest today.”
Albert continues to lead the Superprestige series with 79 points, but Nys is just 6 points back in second. Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) sits third overall with 63.
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this story.