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.
Maybe it’s not a bad idea to put out some “Slippery when wet” signs in Gavere as the november rain created a quite difficult tracke during the last year. Especially the decent from the Castle forced some participants into spectacular stunts. This autumn on the other hand was bone-dry and therefore made some of the muddy parts less terrifying.
Regardless of the wheather conditions the spectators could watch some spectacular races, as the layout still makes the races quite demanding and full of technical difficulties. But no real suprises were about to be seen.
Business as usual
At the men’s elite Laurens Sweeck took control in the beginning of the race, as he did quite often during this season. But all big guns showed up in good shape, and the race started with a bunch of riders in the front. The only loser during this early phase was Tom Meeusen who faced a cracked chain right at the start and had to start his race running up to the first material zone.
As the race unfolded, a group of four riders consisting of Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Lars van der Haar and Wout van Aert took the lead and even though there were some remarkeable attacks no one managed to advance into a solo. With two more laps to go Wout van Aert then managed to place an attack on the steep ascend towards the castle and to gain a small gap between himself and his contenders. From then on, there was no holding back for the the vice worldchampion. Wout van Aert crossed the finish line for the ninth time this season in a masterfull way.
Just behind van Aert, a battle between the three remaining contenders unfolder. While Lars van der Haar had to let his rivals go, Sven Nijs and Kevin Pauwels came down stretcvh ead to head performing a thrilling sprint towards the finishing line. Sven Nijs managed to keep Pauwels behind and gained a well deserved second rank.
Technical ability contra lightweight
The parcours in Gavere is technically demanding, which suits the belgian an european champion Sanne Cant like a well fitting glove. The starting duell was won by Ellen van Loy like so many times before. But no more than half of the first lap was done, when Sanne Cant took the lead from van Loy. From now on Cant increased her advance riding consistently as a swiss clockwork showing no weakness at all.
Featherweight Jolien Verschueren who started badly as ever managed to improve position by position as the race continued and finished second at the end. I think “Calimero-Jolientje” – as Paul Herygers named the girl from Kortrijk – could be a serious rival for Sanne Cant, when she manages to get a better start and get some improvements in her technical skills.
Nikki Harris, who will leave the Telenet-Fidea team by the end of this year completed the podium.
The reign of Telenet-Fidea – U23
Right from the the start european champion Quinten Hermans and his teammate Eli Iserbyt took control of the race. Iserbyt showed once more that he is allready in brilliant shape to run a U23 race. Roundabout half time of the Race the former U19 champion sayd goodbye to his teammate and started a solo ride to the finish. While Quinten Hermans finished second without any troubles, the race for the last remaining spot on the podium lasted to the finishing line. Nicolas Cleppe and Daan Hoeyberghs sprinted side by side for third place. At the end Cleppe had the better end for himself keeping Hoyeberghs down on fourth rank.