Every year the the barracks of the belgian air force in Gavere openes the gates to host one of the most challenging races of the cross calendar. The hilly grounds of the surroundings at the castle Grenier exhibit some difficult descends and exhausting climbes in conjunction with typical flandrian mud ground.
It did rain even during the races last year. This time the weather was more kind and so the weekend stayed mostly dry. But last weeks rain left some distinct traces on the parcours. The muddy ground was significantly soaked at many places. And so here it was, the first mud-feast of the new season. There was hardly any rider who did not touch ground in one of the tricky decents. But still this should become a weekend to see the victory of the favorites.
Like for all other U17 races this season, Florian Vermeersch took the lead and managed his twelfth victory in his twelfth race without being endangered at any time. Arno Debier prolongated his subscription for the second place. Dante Scarponi sprinted for the third rank, and rounded up a complete Lares-Doltcini Podium.
The juniors race revealed no surprise as well. Eli Iserbyt presenting his new jersey as european champion. Even a small “slippertje” during the first lap could not endanger his victory at all. After 45 minutes, Iserbyt crossed the finish line beeing nearly one minute ahead of second placed Jappe Jaspers. Thijs Wolsink from the Netherlands completed the podium. Swiss champion Johan Jacobs, who had been second during last races hat to face some mechanical problems and finished fifth.
Eli Iserbyt’s Ausrutscher blebt ohne Folgen
Despite the UCI’s demand, the ladies race at the Superprestige is not the one beeing immediately before the elite race. It is scheduled between the juniors and the U23. Right from the start of the race new european champion Sanne Cant and Nikki Harris took the lead. The kept beeing the head of the race until the final lap. With one lap to go, Sanne Cant managed to escape from Nikki Harris and took the victory having a 9 second lead. Once again Ellen van Loy showed an exceptional condition and managed to finish on third place.
There was not a trace of a doubt who would be the winner in the race of the U23. World- and european champion Wout van Aert left not a single spark of hope for his competitors. Even a fall in the beginning of the race did not hinder that young man in taking the lead. Beeing accompanied by Laurens Sweeck during the first lap, van Aert drove away from the rest of the bunch. Laurens Sweeck did not manage to keep the pace of the world champion and so Wout van Aert drove a race on his one for the remaining laps. Meanwhile former european champion Michael van Thourenhout managed to close the gap to Sweeck, and so both of them traced the champion at a safe distance. Michael Vanthourenhout had the better end on his side and manged to pass the finishing line ahead of Laurens Sweeck who was loosing his punch at the home-straight.
There was no distinct favorit for the race of the elite, as aach of the races in this season has seen a different winner up to now. Looking at the circumstances and the track it should become a race suitable for Sven Nys. But the belgian champion faced some problems when his chain dropped and he lost many positions before getting back into the race. Even though the man from Baal showed a perfect race performance and manged to catch up many positions he got stuck to third place in the end.
At the front of the race two other riders were about to produce burst of cheers from Jurgen Mettepenningen. Klaas Vantornout drove one of his best races ever and took the win beeing just eight seconds ahead of his teammate Kevin Pauwels. Sven Nys passed the finish line in third position just nineteen seconds after Vantornout. At the end of this fantastic race day Sven Nys took the lead in the overall standings of the Hans-Grohe Superprestige.