While I hate to admit when I am wrong, today I’m more than happy to admit that I was wrong. I was expecting a rubbish day on a boring course, no crowds and yet another Nys/Vos show. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Given that this was Marianne Vos’ first cyclocross race this season and this was her home turf, spectators turned up in surprisingly large numbers. So even though the women started silly early, the race actually had some atmosphere.
What was even cooler was when the fans surrounded Wyman and Vos after the medal ceremony and bombarded them with autograph requests. You don’t see that everyday in Belgium after the women’s race.
The other exciting aspect was that Helen Wyman beat Vos fair and square. Now, you can say that Vos has only started the season but I really hope that this year we’ll see a bit more balanced racing and not just a Vos soloing to victory.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like Vos, she is a great rider and a lovely person, it’s just the races were bit dull last year. With so many great riders around this year, hopefully it will be more challenging for her.
The elite men’s race finally brought a win for Klaas Vantornout and that made me very happy. He is the ultimate domestique, the only problem is that there is no such thing in cyclocross, where team tactics rarely matter. He’s been around like forever and he’s never been a prolific winner. I do remember an interview with him when Kevin Pauwels joined Sunweb-Revor and he said that it was a great relief for him that the pressure is now not on him to win but on Pauwels.
This season, however, he turned out to be the stronger rider of the two them and he’d come painfully close to win a race few times. Today he did it. It was close, he kind of sat up in the last few meters and Sven Nys almost managed to surprise him, but he managed to cross the line first. No fourth shower head for Sven Nys then, though he still leads the overall by a figurative mile.
All in all, it was a good day, a lot of heavy wind, some rain and a fair amount of sunshine in the afternoon, great racing, worthy winners – what else do you need?
Now it’s a long drive back to Rotterdam to see a friend and then back to London tomorrow. Next week’s program is the World Cup in Roubaix, a race I’m really looking forward to, so stay tuned for more next weekend!
An unusual sight – Marianne Vos digging deep to keep up with someone.
By the last lap, the gap between Wyman and Vos was substantial.
Helen Wyman gives autographs.
Everbody wanted a piece of Marianne Vos
We all want to be Marianne Vos when we grow up.
Jens Adams and Tijmen Eising rides together in the first lap of the U23’s race.
There were six jet washes but only four were operational, so there was a lot of fighting going on get the job done and clean the bikes in time for the next pass of the riders.
Inspired by the grown-ups.
Finally, I managed to catch a ‘Time Gap Man’. I saw one in Zonhoven and ever since I’ve been trying to catch one in action.
Jens Adams and Wietse Bosmans jumps back on their bikes in the same rhythm
The prizes were presented by Miss Nederland but the other podium girls were way prettier.
Niels Albert, in a friendly mood minutes before the call up.
Though it rained all morning, it stopped during the U23 race and even the sun came out for the elite men’s race.
Sven Vanthourenhout tries to photobomb my image of Gerben de Knegt
To say that the wind was strong is an understatement.
As @cycleboredom pointed it out on Twitter, while the Sunweb Revor boys took the inside line, Sven Nys consistently took the outside line, both with mixed results.
Gear porn: Niels Albert’s pimp TRP brakes with some water vapor
Now this is when a good idea is paired with bad execution. In general, I’m happy with this shot but I ignored that white pole, right in front of Rob Peeters. Had I moved a bit further to my left and I could have framed it better. Shoulda woulda coulda.
Yes, that little glimmering thing is snot, coming out of Klaas Vantornout’s nose.
I love how dynamic Lars van der Haar looks on this photo.
Niels Albert grits his teeth and tries to close the gap.
Photo taken seconds before Bart Aernouts tries to take me out.
This is where it all looked good and most people thought that it was a done deal, as Vantornout was leading by a few bike-lengths. But note, that Nys had already started sprinting.
But one shall not underestimate Sven Nys. With 200 meters to go, he went for it and tried to pip the almost casually pedalling Vantornout.
But he couldn’t. Note in the background Sunweb-Revor’s team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen’s fist in the air.
Vantornout and his first major win in this season. Or in last season, for that matter. I don’t like podium shots but I had to include, because of Vantornout. Good job!