Belgian national champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) soloed to victory Tuesday at the Jaarmarktcross race, in Niel, Belgium, part of the Soudal Classics Cyclocross Series.
On a technical course that saw the best cyclocross racers in the world running for extended periods of time, across rutted, off-camber grass sections as well as through a long stretch of sand, Nys was in a class of his own, finishing a minute ahead of compatriots Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games).
Nys fell behind early when French rider Clement Lhotellerie crashed, creating a gap at the front of the race.
The 38-year-old Belgian then followed an acceleration by Dutch rider Corné van Kessel (Telenet-Fidea), and the two riders quickly opened a 15-second lead. van Kessel, however, could not hold pace, and Nys was on his own as van Aert and Pauwels chased together.
“I rode at a pace that I could maintain for one hour. That’s not easy, it’s a challenge,” Nys said to Sporza. “I had good legs, and I love courses where anything can happen. It was a technical course, but very open, you could pass anywhere. It was a long race, with a headwind on the road. [Van Aert and Pauwels] were sharing the work, and it was 30 seconds for a long time. A mistake could have easily cut 15 seconds out of the gap.”
It was the sixth career win for Nys on the technical race at Niel, which was first held in 1964, and the fourth win of the season for the Belgian champion.
Newly crowned European champion Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), winner in both Lorsch, Germany, and Ruddervoorde, Belgium, last weekend, won the women’s race in Niel, ahead of Jolien Verschueren (Wielerteam Decock-Woningbouw Vandekerckhove). British national champion Helen Wyman (Kona) finished third.