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Superprestige Cyclo-cross Hamme-Zogge - C1
Hamme-Zogge, Belgium, November 23, 2008
Race 3 - November 23: Elite Men
Nys plows through snow to Superprestige win
by Brecht Decaluwé
Belgian champion Sven Nys plowed his way to victory under heavy snow in Hamme Zogge, the fourth round of the Superprestige series. Race organiser Jurgen Mettepenningen from the Sunweb-Projob team had one of his riders, Klaas Vantornout, away with Nys in the first lap, but when the snow started to accumulate, Vantornout could not hold on.
Behind the two protagonists, Bart Wellens (Fidea) overcame another poor start to claim third place ahead of another Sunweb-Projob rider, Sven Vanthourenhout and three-time world champion, Erwin Vervecken. American Jonathan Page finished twelfth. In the overall classification of the Superprestige series Nys extended his lead over Vantornout and Wellens.
The next Superprestige race is held in Gieten, next Sunday, one day after the World Cup race in Koksijde.
The snow began to fall as the race started, although the top layer of the course was still rather muddy. The cold northwestern wind didn't help the motivation of the riders lining up at the start, but as soon as the start shot was fired there was no way back. In absence of world champion Lars Boom and Niels Albert, it was up to Nys to take the initiative and that's just what he did.
Nys got away with Klaas Vantornout who was defending his second place in the Superprestige series. Halfway through the race the snow began to fall heavily, reducing visibility and colouring the whole area white, including the riders. It made for a beautiful winter scene for the not so numerous crowds in Hamme-Zogge, but created havoc for the riders as the entire course became as slick as ice. That's when Nys decided to put the hammer down and with two accelerations he got away from Vantornout.
Although Nys stumbled several times on the icy stairs and careened nearly out of control into the barricades on the final lap, he took the win in Hamme-Zogge rather easily. The Belgian champion, his helmet vents clogged with snow, needed some heat to warm up after the race. "That last lap was more than I could take. If it would've taken any longer some would have been injured. This is a hard sport, but if you can win in these weather conditions then that makes up for all the efforts," Nys said.
"Purposely I didn't wait until the end to ride away from Klaas because then you need to take risks and it is dangerous in this weather; I only accelerated in the sections where I felt good. Before that, Klaas and I just tried to build up a safe gap on the others before thinking about the victory. In the end I think I can say that I was the strongest rider today," Nys said.
In the overall rankings Nys extends his lead over Vantornout, but that battle wasn't over yet, according to Nys. "Nothing is decided. I just have to keep gathering points wherever I can."
How it unfolded
The Czech front row starters were surprised as the start shot was fired just as the camera men moved out of the way in front of them. As usual, Thijs Al took a great start and he led the bunch through the first muddy sections of the meadow in Hamme-Zogge. The Dutchman was followed by Belgians Klaas Vantornout and Sven Nys who quickly took over from Al.
After one lap Vantornout and Nys had seven seconds on the Sunweb duo Jan Verstraeten and Sven Vanthourenhout who led the bunch, while Jonathan Page was riding seventeen seconds behind the two leaders.
Nys took over during the second lap, keeping Vantornout with him. Behind the two leaders Vanthourenhout was trying to make it to the front together with Rob Peeters and behind them a group of eight riders tried to organize the chase; hanging on in last position was Page.
During the third lap the lead from Vantornout and Nys grew up to more than twenty seconds on a group with Bart Wellens, Rob Peeters, Sven Vanthourenhout and Erwin Vervecken. Halfway through the race the two leaders seemed to be out of reach, both doing pulls to maintain their lead. In the background Peeters and Pauwels were struggling and they dropped back into a second chasing group.
In front of them Vervecken and Vanthourenhout were chasing at 27 seconds from the leaders. Vantornout was struggling to keep up with Nys, but he managed to come back when the Belgian champion accelerated a first time. When Nys accelerated a second time Vantornout was dropped, seemingly for good. Vervecken, Vanthourenhout and Wellens followed at 54 seconds.
Nys didn't look back anymore, and within one lap he gathered a lead of almost twenty seconds on Vantornout. The latter had to give up his aspirations for victory and focus on staying ahead of Wellens and Vanthourenhout, who, having detached from Vervecken, were closing in.
Going into the last lap Nys was comfortably leading the race with a gap of 28 seconds on Vantornout, Wellens was alone in third position, while Vanthourenhout and Vervecken battled for fourth place at more than a minute from Nys. The Belgian reached the finish – half frozen – ahead of Vantornout and Wellens. Vervecken claimed fourth ahead of Vanthourenhout.
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Images by Photopress.be
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner 59.49 2 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 0.11 3 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.24 4 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.50 5 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 1.03 6 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.11 7 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 1.12 8 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 1.31 9 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne 1.38 10 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 1.44 11 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 1.47 12 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 13 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 2.20 14 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 2.22 15 Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida 2.53 16 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Palmans - Cras 3.21 17 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 3.31 18 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 3.43 19 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Drink - Be One 4.00 20 Radomír imunek (Cze) Palmans - Cras 4.06 21 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) Van Vliet EBH Elshof 4.07 22 Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team 4.21 23 Marco Bianco (Ita) L´Arcobaleno Carraro Team 4.34 24 Jempy Drucker (Lux) Fidea Cycling Team 5.16 25 Bjorn Rondelez (Bel) Lingier Versluys Beachbikers Team VZW 6.45 26 Martin Zlámalík (Cze) Prodoli Racing Team 8.00 27 Kendric Van Grembergen (Bel) 8.59 One lap behind 28 Geert Wellens (Bel) AVB Cycling Team 29 Steven De Schoesitter (Bel) Rudyco Cycling Team Four laps behind 30 Mark Cotton (GBr) 31 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 32 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner Five laps behind 33 Dries Cauwelier (Bel) Cycling Team Cauwelier Roeselare 34 Freddy De Meester (Bel) Rijschool AH - Gentse VS 35 René Mertens (Bel) General classification after four races 1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner 58 pts 2 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 53 3 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 48 4 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 42 5 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 36 6 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drink - BeOne 29 7 Niels Albert (Bel) Palmans - Cras 28 8 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 26 9 Rob Peeters (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 24 10 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 23 11 Petr Dlask (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 21 12 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 13 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 14 pts 14 Dieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Palmans - Cras 13 15 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Drink - Be One 16 Wilant van Gils (Ned) Pro Cycling Team ZZPR.nl-Destil-Merida 9 pts 17 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team 8 18 Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team 6 19 Jan Soetens (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 20 Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike 5 pts 21 Radomír imunek (Cze) Palmans - Cras 22 Jan Verstraeten (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team 3 pts 23 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 2 24 Tom Van den Bosch (Bel) Rendementhypo Cycling Team 1