The “moeder aller crossen (mother off all crosses)” Vlaamse Druivencross located in Overijse exists since 1960 and hence is one of the old cross races in belgium. Without belonging to one of the important series, most top riders constantly put this event into their racing calendar.
But this year’s edition differs a bit from fromer ones. Sven Nys whos name is marked six times on the role of former winners, had to quit the race after three laps during last year due to mechanical issues. The organizer therefore shortened the starting money by the percentage of laps Nys missed. This behaviour affronted Nys and he declared furiously that he will never ever put a foot into a race in Overijse again. In addition to Nys missing, Wout van Aert decided to fly back to spain for a training session right after the race in Essen one day earlier.
But still the race promised to be well equipped as world champion Mathieu van der Poel, Kevin Pauwels and last years winner Tom Meeusen as well as the belgian champion Klaas Vantornout were about to start. But nevertheless, regardless of the attractive list of starters and the spectacular parcours the amount of visitors was signifcant smaller than during the former years. This might server as a reason why organizer Willy van Roy reacted as harsh as he did about the refusal of Sven Nys.
The Champion is back
It took four races untill the worlchampion managed to gain the highest spot in the podium. Last weekend he scuppered his chances for a place on the podium by performing a spectacular salto during the last lap. On the race in Essen, the day before Overijse van der Poel looked like the winner when a torn off rear derailleur forced him into running instead of cycling and he had to watch his victory fade away as Nys and van Aert passed him.
This time nearly everything went fine for Mathieu van der Poel. He took a poor start, leaving him at twelfth position in the beginning. But he managed to move forwared from position to position until he went into the lead during the second half of the race. Arrived at the head of the race nothing could stop van der Poel, and so he could celebrate his first victory of the season. When crossing the finish line he showed an overwhielming relief of arriving on the road to victory again. Kevin Pauwels prooved himself beeing best of the rest and finished in second position ahead of last years winner Tom Meeusen.
Small, but oh my !
A leading duo consisting of the british champion Helen Wyman and her co-patriot Nikki Harris formed the early lead of the women elite race. Just like last week in Hamme Wyman proved that she has gained back a really good shape. Not only during the technical descends but also in the steep climbs Helen Wyman showed a strong performance and managed to gain a small advantage of about ten seconds.
While Nikki Harris and belgian champion Sanne Cant started to chase Wyman, Jolien Verschueren who showed a poor starting performance once again, managed to make her way to the front on the quiet. During the second half of the race she managed to close up to Harris and Cant but did not remain there but overtook the two and closed up to Wyman. A short and thrilling fight for lead followed but in the end Verschueren could take profit of some smaller faults of Wyman and managed to break away from the british champion.
Just behind the two leading women, Sanne Cant managed to create a gap of some seconds to Nikki Harris. When dismounting ahead of a small climb, Cant rammed the handle bar into her abdomen. She was able to finish the race while in pain, but had to let Harris pass her.
Eli Iserbyt still dominant
Eli Iserbyt decided to give the race in Essen a miss, even though he would loose his GC lead in the bpost bank trofee. But on the other hand he showed up in Overijse beeing fresh and recovered. And so the Telenet-Fidea rider gave no raise to doubts about his ambition to win the Druivencross for U23. During the first lap he formed a leading group with his teammate Daan Soete. But soon Iserbyt went into a solo lead again and showed his dominance one more time. While Soete finished in second place, Braam Merlier who is performing better and better gained the last remaining spot on the podium once more.
In the U19 category Seppe Rombouts could celebrate his first win of the season ahead of Mathijs Wuyts an Andreas Goeman. The swiss mountain bike rider Luca Schatti managed to produce a small surprise when he won the U17 race. He left Lloyd Sprangers and Thomas Kopecki behind an celebrated his second win in belgium this year.