World champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) added another jersey to his collection on Saturday, dominating the Belgian national cyclocross championship at Waregem.
Nys got away on the third lap as Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) bobbled in a long sand pit, and that was all the advantage he would need. The chase featured a changing cast of characters but the star of the show remained the world champion, who rode a nearly flawless race from start to finish.
“Normally I need to have a course with a lot of climbs and downhills — and also the mud, definitely — but I saw the last two weeks that on every course I could win,” Nys said.
“I felt in the first lap that I could move to the front and when I had the space in the second lap I saw I directly had 10 seconds. Then you need to race your race, stay focused, don’t go over the limit, and try to make no mistakes. And everything went perfect.”
Going into the bell lap Nys had 42 seconds’ advantage over Rob Peeters (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and a resurgent Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea). Pauwels had faded to a second chase at more than a minute back, while Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) had abandoned.
Peeters got away from Wellens on the final go-round, but Nys was long gone. He finally had to run that long sand pit — the only time it set him afoot — but it wasn’t even close to a game-changer.
Nys hit the line alone, both hands in the air, then applauding as the crowd roared. Peeters followed for second at 32 seconds with Wellens third a few seconds later.
“It definitely is nice, because the world championships are coming and it’s good that I have a jersey for next year,” said Nys. “I can stay relaxed now for the worlds and stay focused because I have a jersey, I have a GC that I can win in the bpost Bank Trofee and also the Superprestige is not finished. But I’m motivated to win the worlds again also.”
Peeters said he had some doubts after finding himself well back in the early going on the tough circuit.
“I rode most of the time together with Bart, but at the beginning we were totally at the back of the race. We were last and second from last at one point. But then we jumped forward, we kept on gaining places, and suddenly we were in the fight for the podium,” he said.
Asked when a new generation might challenge for the Belgian title, Peeters replied: “If Sven stops, I think. You heard him say [in this press conference] that he felt fresh every time we went into the sand. Well, I can write it down for you, I was never fresh there.”
Wellens was delighted with how things worked out, saying he had to meter his effort despite the encouragement from the crowd.
“I’m the one who you least expected to be on the podium, but I was actually riding well, just not getting good results,” he said.
“At a certain point in the race I was coming back to Nys, but I realized I had to not let the fans get me too excited, ride my own race and focus on what was happening behind me and not on Sven.”
In the women’s race, meanwhile, Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) took the title in a come-from-behind effort, finishing ahead of Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea) and Githa Michiels.
“The first lap I had to adapt to the more slippery conditions, that’s why I switched bikes. But I quickly got to Ellen, then rode my own pace and quickly ended up alone,” said Cant. “I didn’t want to blow up at the start. It was slippery under the bridges.
“It would be weird not to have the jersey anymore, if I hadn’t won.”
• Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report.
France: Mourey wins 8th title
Francis Mourey (FDJ.fra) won the French national cyclocross championships on Sunday in Lignières.
It was Mourey’s eighth national title, a record.
Mourey dominated the event, finishing 30 seconds ahead of Fabien Canal (EC Armée de Terre) and Nicolas Bazin (US Domont).
Netherlands: Van der Haar, Vos rule
Lars van der Haar and Marianne Vos won the Dutch national cyclocross championships on Sunday in Gieten.
Van der Haar (Rabobank), ranked world number one and current leader of the World Cup, took his second title agead of Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea) and Thijs van Amerongen (AA Drink).
Vos won her fourth crown ahead of Sophie de Boer (Telenet-Fidea) and Sabrina Stultiens (Rabobank Liv-Giant).
Germany: Walsleben, Kupfernagel victorious
Philipp Walsleben (BKCP-Powerplus) and Hanka Kupfernagel took the flowers on Sunday at the German national cyclocross championships at Döhlau.
Marcel Meisen (Kawdro-Stannah) and Sascha Weber (Team Differdange-Losch) finished second and third in the men’s race, while Elisabeth Brandau (EBE Racing) and Lisa Heckmann (VC Racing) rounded out the podium in the women’s competition.