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Essen, Belgium, December 13, 2008

2007 Results     Results    Past winners

Nys supreme in the cold

By Brecht Decaluwé in Essen, Belgium

Sven Nys celebrates
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Belgian champion Sven Nys did an excellent job in defending his leading position in the GvA-trophy by claiming the fourth round of the series in Essen, near Antwerp. The freezing temperatures didn't keep Nys from making it a hard race for his rivals. The 32-year-old Belgian champion attacked in the second lap, in order to get points at the intermediate sprint for bonus points after two laps. Czech champion Zdenek Stybar joined him shortly after the sprint and the duo decided to continue their efforts on the fast course that included many U-turns on the frozen meadows and a short technical zone in the forest. Nobody was able to get back to the front as the duo worked well together to develop their lead.

In the final lap, Stybar - sort of a home rider in Essen as he recently bought a house there - was unable to follow Nys when he accelerated in the technical part of the course. Nys increased the gap throughout the last lap and won by 11 seconds. Further back seven riders were battling for third place and eventually it was Dutchman Thijs Al who captured the remaining podium spot. Bart Wellens, second in the GvA-trophy, crashed during the second lap - when Nys attacked - and the Belgian could do no more than damage control by claiming the sixth place. By that time world champion Lars Boom - who made his return after two weeks of training in Spain - eased off and crossed the finish line in ninth position.

Nys is now comfortably leading the overall classification of the series before compatriots Wellens and Bart Aernouts. The next round of the GvA-trophy is held in Loenhout on December 30.

Nys started racking up victories in Essen from 1998 on and after the race the Belgian champion was asked how he rated the race. "I started focusing on this race when I started focusing on the GvA-trophy, as this is a key race ahead of the busy Christmas weeks ahead," Nys said to Sporza. "It's important to perform well here in order to enter those weeks without too much stress. That's also why I decided to attack in the second lap, so I could grab some points at the intermediate bonus sprint.

"Stybar was a good companion and he was very motivated to perform well in front of his home crowd," Nys continued. "In the final lap I attacked on those hills and I managed to distance him in the technical corners that followed right after the hills. During the race I had felt that I was better because I was riding at ease when he was pulling."

On Sunday the European cyclo-cross peloton heads for Overijse where the classic Druivencross will be held. Of course Nys will be one of the riders to beat but today's winner referred to another rider as major favorite. "For tomorrow we'll have to deal with an extremely motivated Klaas Vantornout who was probably sitting in his couch with his feet up in the air," Nys referred to the Sunweb rider who won in Overijse last year and who didn't come to an agreement with the organizers from Essen to start in their race on Saturday.

Bart Wellens didn't know if he would take part in the Druivencross after his crash in Essen. "I had good legs today. I knew it was money time when Nys had just attacked to get points at the sprint in the second lap. Those points are important so I reacted and rode in third position and suddenly I crashed and something got into my back," Wellens said. "From then on I struggled but by the end of the race I noticed that the others weren't riding away from me and I saw guys like Boom making minor mistakes. I gave all I had and that's how I got that sixth place," Wellens explained.

Zdenek Stybar leads
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That happened far behind the battle for the victory where Czech champion Stybar had to bow for the supremacy from Sven Nys. The 23-year-old rider explained that he would have loved to win in front of a home crowd but he realized Nys was the strongest today. "This week I was tired after the two Spanish races from last weekend but I felt good when the start shot was fired. During the last two laps I started to suffer from cramps," runner-up Stybar said. "I always made a mistake on those hills [where Nys attacked] and I always had to close the gap afterwards which cost a lot of energy I should be happy with second place although I wanted to win here for my home crowd and for my sister who gave birth to a child on Friday.".

Cannonball starter Thijs Al did more than start fast in Essen as he racked up a morale-boosting podium finish in Essen. "By the end of the penultimate lap I had eased off a bit and then I gave all I had to lead the group when entering the field in the last lap. I went full gas and managed to get over the two hills, which hadn't been the case on too many occasions before that. I had a gap and was able to keep it until the finish," Al said.

How it unfolded

Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team)
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Boom, Nys, Al and Wellens started quickly and entered the frozen meadows in front of the bunch. Fifteen riders were able to keep up with the pace set by Thijs Al and later by his compatriot world champion Boom. After one lap Belgian champion Nys moved to the front and increased the pace. On one of the steep artificial hills Simunek, riding in sixth position, didn't reach the top and created a collision behind him. Nys created a leading gap of several meters and behind him Wellens dropped out of the lead group after sliding down on a rather easy corner.

Nys reached the intermediate sprint at the end of the second lap with a gap of five seconds on Stybar, and a little more on a small group led by Boom. Stybar bridged up with Nys resulting in a leader's group with the national champions of the Czech Republic and Belgium. Behind the two leaders Simunek, Boom and Sven Vanthourenhout seemed unable to close the gap, riding at nine seconds. More than 10 seconds later Wellens was riding in a group with Gerben De Knegt, Bart Aernouts and Dieter Vanthourenhout.

Boom swapped bikes - with tires that offered more grip - and dropped back into the group with Wellens. With five laps to go seven riders regrouped at almost 20 seconds behind the two leaders where Nys was riding seemingly more comfortably than Stybar.

Halfway through, the race seemed decided with Nys and Stybar battling for the victory and the chasers at half a minute battling for third place. Under the impetus of Lars Boom the chasing group split apart with Wellens, Groenendaal and De Knegt being the first casualties.

Going into the penultimate lap Thijs Al jumped away from the chasing group that followed at more than forty seconds from the two leaders. Starting the last lap Nys and Stybar were still together with six riders behind them battling for the third spot; Lars Boom, Sven Vanthourenhout, Thijs Al, Bart Aernouts, Radomir Simunek and Kevin Pauwels.

On the series of two steep artificial hills Stybar was forced to dab his foot on the ground. Nys didn't hesitate and went full gas, immediately creating a gap of three seconds. Although Stybar didn't give in he couldn't get back to the Belgian champion who steamed to his fifth victory in Essen.

Thijs Al led the battle for third place on the two hills while Boom got stuck and lost several positions. While riders like Boom and Dieter Vanthourenhout gave up their challenge for third place and cruised towards the finish, Wellens gave all he had to move up some positions in order to save his overall classification in the GvA-trophy. Thijs Al finished third before Aernouts and Pauwels. Wellens won the sprint for sixth place before Sven and Dieter Vanthourenhout. World champion Boom rolled in as ninth rider.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Cyclingnews.com

Images by Niels De Wit/www.nielsdewit.be


Elite men
1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                                    58.25
2 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team                                          0.11
3 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne                                                 0.38
4 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank                                                    0.41
5 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                                          0.46
6 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                                           0.50
7 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team                            0.54
8 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Palmans - Cras                                      0.56
9 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank                                                        1.07
10 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Drink - Be One                                    1.12
11 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank                                                 1.19
12 Radomír Šimunek (Cze) Palmans - Cras                                           1.35
13 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                                   
14 Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team                             2.29
15 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team                                            2.35
16 Mariusz Gil (Pol)                                                              2.41
17 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team                                            2.57
18 David Willemsens (Bel) Revor Cycling Team                                      3.01
19 Marek Cichosz (Pol)                                                            3.05
20 Patrick Van Leeuwen (Ned) Het Snelle Wiel                                      3.19
21 Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida                   3.32
22 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team                               3.41
23 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof                                 4.05
24 Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team                                   4.32
25 Tim Heemskerk (Ned)                                                            6.32
26 Andre Sutton (Can) Hardcore Cycling Club                                           
27 Steven De Schoesitter (Bel) Rudyco Cycling Team                                    
28 Freddy De Meester (Bel) Rijschool AH - Gentse VS                                   
U23 men
1 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Palmans-Cras                                           59.09
2 Jim Aernouts (Bel) Palmans-Cras                                                 0.25
3 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb Projob                                         
4 Vincent Baestaens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                                      0.44
5 Lukas Kloucek (Cze) Sunweb ProJob                                               1.12
6 Mitchell Huenders (Ned)                                                             
7 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Rabobank                                                      
8 Twan Van Den Brand (Ned)                                                            
9 Jan Van Dael (Bel) Sunweb ProJob                                                1.31
10 Tom Meeusen (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                                           1.37
11 Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team                                   
12 Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                                     1.41
13 Stef Boden (Bel) AA Cycling Team                                               1.53
14 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Rabobank                                                      
15 Sven Verboven (Bel) Palmans-Cras                                               2.19
16 Tomasz Repinski (Pol)                                                          2.24
17 Gianni Denolf (Bel) Palmans-Cras                                                   
18 Kevin Cant (Bel) AVB Cycling Team                                              2.53
19 Bart Bruyndonckx (Bel)                                                         3.03
20 Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team                                     3.34
21 Sylwester Janiszewski (Pol)                                                        
22 Dany Lacroix (Bel) L' espoir Condruzien                                            
23 Marco Minnaard (Ned)                                                               
24 Jasper Ockeloen (Ned)                                                          3.38
25 Zeb Willems (Bel) AVB - Cycling Team                                           3.44
26 Kristof Cop (Bel) AVB Cycling Team                                             4.00
27 Dennis Verhoeven (Bel) AVB Cycling Team                                        4.03
28 Jonathan Bervoets (Bel) Heylen Meubelcentrale Zlwc St.Truiden                  4.24
29 Dries Pauwels (Bel) Empella Czech Team                                         5.02
30 Hans Antonissen (Bel)                                                          5.10
31 Jelle Brackman (Bel) Granville-Morgan Blue Cycling Team                        5.18
32 Wim Thijs (Bel) Edegem Bicycle Club V.Z.W.                                     5.36
33 Bart Hermans (Bel) EasyPay                                                     5.48
34 Stijn Mortelmans (Bel)                                                         6.08
35 Cristian Izquierdo-Sholtobriukh (Bel) Heylen Meubelcentrale Zlwc St.Truiden    6.25
36 Niels Beelen (Bel)                                                             6.52
37 Cees De Ridder (Ned)                                                           7.37
One lap behind
38 Nick De Proost (Bel) MBK - Delsol Team                                             
39 Thomasz Skrzypek (Pol)                                                             
40 Lorenzo Messine (Bel) Cyclo Cross Team Waarschoot                                  

Past winners

2007 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank
2006 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank