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Cant, Vantornout win Belgian cyclocross nationals

Cant keeps the Belgian champion's jersey for another year, while Vantornout claims the title for his second time

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Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP) successfully defended the black, yellow, and red jersey she won a year ago, claiming her sixth elite national cyclocross championship title on Sunday in Erpe-Mere.

“When you see the track, it was the hardest [of my victories],” Cant said.

“Ellen [Van Loy] went on the second lap, but I felt I was a little bit better, and I kept on going on my own tempo. I know when I’m riding that — I was getting closer and closer to Ellen — I’m going faster. And then I was able to ride away from Ellen.”

Ellen Van Loy (Telenet-Fidea) claimed second, 18 seconds behind, and Githa Michiels (Trek-KMC) was third, about two minutes back.

“I would have been disappointed with a third place, but I can live with second,” Van Loy said. “It was the chance of a lifetime to beat Sanne, because she had been ill, and it didn’t work.

“I made too many mistakes on the technical part. On the other parts, Sanne got off the bike earlier, but I didn’t gain anything by riding those sections.”

As Cant celebrated her victory, she pointed to the sky in tribute to her grandfather, who recently died. “It’s the first time I’ve won a championship without him,” she said. “In the evening, at the cafe, he was always there [to celebrate]. This is the first title I’ve won where he won’t be there.”

Vantornout claims second national title

In the men’s race, Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb) won his second Belgian title, riding alone to beat Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) and Wout van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), who were second and third, respectively. Defending champion Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) finished fourth.

“This was totally unexpected,” said Vantornout. “Before the race, I didn’t even have a lot of energy or motivation to start the race. But in the race I decided to find my own rhythm; I knew that was important. After a while, I started finding my better legs. I realized, the one who is the fittest in the last lap, who has the most energy left, he’ll be the winner.

“I’m not a guy who wins a lot of races, but now I have two Belgian titles. I can’t believe it myself.”

A broken rear derailleur foiled van Aert, 20, who was a heavy favorite to win after a string of great results in December. He finished 16 seconds in arrears; Meeusen was eight seconds behind Vantornout.

“In the beginning of the race everything went like I expected and like I hoped it would,” said van Aert. “I was quickly in the front, and I had a good rhythm. I had a nice advantage, and I was thinking, ‘Okay, let’s do this. Four more laps on my own rhythm.’ And then it would be okay.

“But after I had the mechanical problem — The derailleur [jockey] wheel in the back was broken, and I couldn’t shift, and I couldn’t put any power to the pedals. So I lost maybe 20 seconds with that. But it was not really the 20 seconds; it was in my head that something went wrong, and the belief in the victory was gone after that.

“For sure it’s disappointing, but it’s only my own fault that I lost the belief in the victory. Because the victory was still in my hands then. I came back easily, and I had the possibility to fight back and go for the victory. I don’t know how it comes that it doesn’t work out. But the belief was gone and for some reason I couldn’t fight in the final.”

Meeusen bemoaned the day’s heavy track that did not favor his skill-set. “It’s already two years in a row that I get a really heavy national championships with lots of running and now — it’s always if, if — but if I get a better track, then I have much more chance for the win. Today was just too heavy for me and that I’m not second on such a close distance … Then I would have been ready for the win, I think.

“Before the race I said I wasn’t going to ride for a second place, and now I’m second.”