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Vlaamse Houtlandcross Eernegem - C2
Eernegem, Belgium, November 8, 2008
Nys wins last test ahead of World Cup
By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem, Belgium
Belgian champion Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) won the Houtlandcross in Eernegem in a sprint against local hero and last year's winner Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb Projob Cycling Team). A few seconds later Dutchman Thijs Al (AA Drink - BeOne) held off Dieter Vanthourenhout (Palmans - Cras ) for the remaining podium spot while American Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) came in as last rider of this group, finishing fifth.
World champion Lars Boom and World Cup leader Niels Albert preferred to skip the race in Eernegem in order to be fresh enough for tomorrow's World Cup race in Pijnacker, The Netherlands.
Nys wasn't expected to start in Eernegem, but nevertheless the Belgian champion showed up and grabbed his sixth victory of the season.
"This wasn't an easy victory," Nys said to Cyclingnews. "I was going by how I felt here, but it was necessary to ride at the front of the race on this course. Gaps were easily created in the technical zone at the playground with the twists and turns.
"Since I didn't start too well, I steadily moved up positions. Just past halfway in the race, I accelerated and felt that I could win here as I gained a gap on the others," Nys said.
At that point in the race, Nys, Vantornout, Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team), Dieter Vanthourenhout, Al, Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas), Martin Bina (Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor) and Page comprised the lead group. Coming back after a bad start, Page was sitting on Nys' wheel when the Belgian attacked. Page wasn't planning to close the gap on his own and forced the local riders to play their cards in front of their home crowd.
With three laps to go, Nys was chased down by local riders Vantornout and Vanthourenhout, and a few moments later Al and Page joined the leaders, too, although the two non-Belgians were clearly having trouble hanging onto the three Belgians.
Last year Vantornout decided the race's outcome in the last lap with an acceleration in the technical zone. This year, he launched a sprint toward the same zone and took over the lead. Vanthourenhout was struggling to stay on his wheel, and Nys noticed he needed to move up or miss out on the win.
Vantornout couldn't drop Nys, and halfway through the final lap, he was overtaken as Nys moved into the lead. The Belgian champion started his sprint from far out with half a lap around the football pitch in Eernegem to go and Vantornout didn't have enough course left to overtake Nys before the finish line.
"Nys surprised me by starting the sprint from far out, very far out. Then again, it's not a shame to lose to Nys. I think the two of us were the best riders today," Vantornout said.
While Al managed to outsprint a disappointed Vanthourenhout for the remaining podium spot, the American Page was sitting too far back to take part in the sprint for the podium. Still Page was content with his performance in Eernegem.
"It would have been nicer to be on the podium, of course, but my form is going into the right direction," Page said to Cyclingnews.
The Planetbike rider crashed in the first lap and took a long time before coming back to the front. "I spent a lot of energy and time in that pursuit together with [Enrico] Franzoi, but I feel that I'm ready for the World Cup tomorrow," Page said.
Franzoi was dropped when Nys attacked on lap six, but the Italian wasn't too far back, finishing sixth a little more than a half of a minute down from winner Nys. Radomir Simunek (Palmans - Cras), who cornered into the swing on the playground during the third lap, crossed the line a few seconds later. Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team) rode near the front until two laps to go, but once dropped, he took it easy eventually finished eighth.
Another young Belgian, Tom Van Den Bosch (Rendementhypo Cycling Team), confirmed his excellent form with a ninth place ahead of Czech talent Bina, whose strong first half of the race saw him suffer. A lack of stamina meant he could not stick with the leaders for the second half.
Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team) seemed to be riding more backwards than forward in Eernegem. The former World Champion may soon need to worry about his chances for Belgian team selection for the World Cup races as he was unable to play any role of importance; the former World Champion finished an anonymous fourteenth in Eernegem.
1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner 2 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 3 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne 4 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Palmans - Cras 5 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 6 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas 7 Radomir Simunek (Bel) Palmans - Cras 8 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 9 Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team 10 Martin Bína (Cze) Cyklo Team Budvar Tábor 11 Davy Commeyne (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 12 Steve Chainel (Fra) Auber 93 13 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 14 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 15 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 16 Wim Leemans (Bel) AVB Cycling Team 17 Gianni Denolf (Bel) Palmans - Cras 18 Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team 19 David Willemsens (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 20 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita) 21 Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Povoa Cycling Club 22 Robert Gavenda (Svk) Fidea Cycling Team 23 Geert Wellens (Bel) AVB-USSspa Cycling Team Kasterlee 24 David Collins (GBr) Science In Sport - Trek 25 Dimitri Stevens (Bel) MEZ Team Belgium Snellegem 26 Hugo Martinez Rus (Spa) 27 Jan Denuwelaere (Bel) Adinkerkse 28 Jorge Rodriguez Garcia (Spa) 29 Jerry Kallenfels (Ned) Easypay Cyclocross Team 30 Jeffrey Depuydt (Bel) Jonge Renners Roeselare 31 Tom Desmet (Bel) Asfra Racing Team 32 Javier Heras Salichs (Spa) 33 Steven De Schoesitter (Bel) Rudyco Cycling Team 34 Carlos Hernandez Garcia (Spa) 35 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Quick Step 36 Keith Murray (GBr) 37 Bragando De La Fuente (Spa) 38 Dries Cauwelier (Bel) Cycling Team Cauwelier Roeselare
2007 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 2006 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Rabobank 2005 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 2004 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Quickstep - Davitamon 2003 Ben Berden (Bel) John Saey-Deschacht 2002 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites