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After having led the race from the first lap, van Aert defended his title in the Flandriencross in Hamme-Zogge by holding off a late comeback from Nys; he also extended his overall lead in the Bpost Bank Trofee series

Photo: Feltet.dk

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29.11.2015 @ 17:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Wout van Aert found back to his winning ways after last year’s battle with Sven Nys in Koksijde when he rode to a solo win in the Flandriencross in Hamme-Zogge. The Belgian escaped already on the first lap and held off a comeback from Sven Nys to make it two in a row in the Bpost Bank Trofee race and extended his overall lead in the series.

 

One week ago Wout van Aert and Sven Nys had a memorable battle at the Superprestige race in Hamme-Zogge. The veteran had the upper hand against the youngster who has dominated the season so far.

 

Today everything was set for a big revenge at the Flandriencross in Hamme-Zogge and again it came down to a big duel between the two best riders at the moment. Unlike last week, however, it was van Aert who rode away with the victory despite a great comeback from Nys.

 

Van Aert had showed his intentions right from the start and he quickly passed early leader Lars van der Haar and got an early advantage. He briefly seemed to hesitate but decided to grab the opportunity and when he went full gas, he soon built a solid gap.

 

For Nys, the race got off to a disastrous start as he crashed shortly after the flag had been dropped. The double winner from last weekend suddenly found himself in the middle of a big pack and was forced to pass numerous riders to get back to the front.

 

While Nys slowly moved up, Kevin Pauwels and Mathieu van der Poel both made big surges as they tried to rejoin van Aert but they both faded backwards and had to recover from their efforts. Later they joined forces with van der Haar and when Nys finally made the junction, a chase quartet had been made.

 

Nys was unfortunate to ride into Pauwels’ back wheel when the Sunweb captain stumbled and lost a few seconds that maybe turned out to be decisive. He slowly got back up to speed and while Pauwels and van der Haar drifted backwards, he finally made it back to van der Poel, ultimately dropping the world champion.

 

From there, it was another battle between Nys and van Aert. The veteran managed to reduce his deficit from 18 to 10 seconds but that was as close as he would get. At the start of the final lap, the gap had gone out to 14 seconds and it was clear that van Aert could safely cruise home to take the victory.

 

Behind Nys, the battle for third was intense. Van der Poel seemed to be the strongest but his lack of racing probably proved to be costly. He faded dramatically in the final two laps and instead it was Pauwels who came back from a mid-race crisis to take third, with van der Haar also passing van der Poel in the final lap.

 

The win means that van Aert now has won all three races in the Bpost Bank Trofee series which is based on time instead of points. As he abandoned the second race, Nys is far behind in the overall standings. Pauwels remains in second but now trails van Aert by 2.19 while van der Haar is 2.45 behind in third.

 

The next race in the series will be held next Saturday in Essen, with the Druivenkoers in Overijse taking place on Sunday in what will be a double weekend.

 

How it unfolded:

Lars van de Haar got the race off to a great start as he hit the front after the opening sprint, followed by Wout van Aert. Meanwhile, a big crash involved the likes of Jens Adams, Niels Wubben and most notably Klaas Vantornout who found himself alone far behind the rest after less than a minute of racing.

 

The chaotic start continued as Sven Nys went down less than a minute later. The veteran was forced into chase mode in the middle of the big field while van Aert hit the front and started to put his rivals under pressure.

 

Van Aert slowly distanced his rivals while Mathieu van der Poel tried to make up for a slightly less good start by moving up in the other side of the muddiest section. The world champion stumbled and lost several spots.

 

Van Aert realized that he already had an advantage and so dropped the hammer, increasing his advantage as he approached the end of the first lap. Further back, Kevin Pauwels was accelerating, splitting the peloton to pieces.

 

AT the end of the first lap, van Aert led Pauwels, Tim Merlier and van der Haar by 9 seconds. Nys and van der Poel found themselves in a big group at around 15 seconds, led by Michael Vanthourenhout and the Sweeck brothers Diether and Laurens.

 

Pauwels was clearly the strongest in the chase group and quickly distanced his two companions who were joined by van der Poel that had got back up to speed. Nys was also moving up in his group but needed to pass lots of riders to get back to the front positions.

 

Van der Haar made it back to Pauwels and even managed to pass the fading Sunweb leader in time to take second in the intermediate sprint behind van Aert. Further back, Nys had passed Merlier and was about to rejoin van der Poel.

 

At the end of the second lap, van Aert led van der Haar and Paiwels by 8 seconds while van der Poel and Nys were at 13 seconds. Merlier was with the Sweeck brothers at 17 seconds while Corne van Kessel was alone 3 seconds further back.

 

In the third lap, Nys passed van der Poel and the pair slowly closed the gap to van der Haar and Pauwels. However, Nys ran into Pauwels’ backwheel in a muddy section and as the world champion sprinted past the pair, van der Poel and van der Haar were suddenly gone.

 

Van der Poel made a big surge as he tried to get back to his arch-rival van Aert and van der Haar was clearly on his limit as he tried to keep up with the world champion. However, the pair was still together as they crossed the finish line 10 seconds behind van Aert while Nys and Pauwels followed six seconds further adrift.

 

The two chase duos merged in the early part of the next lap and Nys moved straight into second position behind van der Poel. He recovered for a moment while Pauwels slowly got distanced and the made a big acceleration when van der Poel entered the pit for a bike change. He quickly distanced his two companions but now found himself 16 seconds behind the lone van Aert.

 

At the end of the fifth lap, the gap had been reduced slightly and Nys was making progress. Van der Poel had distanced van der Haar who was now again with Pauwels. Laurens Sweeck was riding alone in sixth place.

 

In the next lap, Nys made several mistakes which allowed van der Poel to slowly approach him from behind. However, the world champion was not flawless either as he stumbled in a muddy section. Meanwhile, Pauwels was getting back up to speed and was riding away from van der Haar.

 

At the end of the lap, Nys was 18 seconds behind while Pauwels had joined forces with van der Poel 13 seconds further back. Van der Haar was still in podium contention as he was at 36 seconds, with Sweeck now 58 seconds back in sixth.

 

Van der Poel was clearly fading and was dropped by Pauwels who was riding consistently without making any major mistakes. Meanwhile, Nys was still fighting hard to get back to van Aert and he was slowly making progress. When he crossed the line at the end of the next lap, he was just 12 seconds behind, with Pauwels being around 30 seconds back. Van der Poel was at 48 seconds and had almost been caught by van der Haar.

 

The two leaders were pretty equally matched and during an exciting lap they maintained almost the same speed. At the passage of the line, Nys was still 14 seconds behind while Pauwels was at 48, van der Poel at 58 and van der Haar at a little more than a minute.

 

During the final lap, it soon became clear that it was too late for Nys. The veteran was riding well but was no longer making any progress on van Aert who was not making any major mistakes. Meanwhile, Pauwels consolidated his third place.

 

In the end, there was no one stopping van Aert who had plenty of time to celebrate his win before Nys rolled across the line 18 seconds too late. Pauwels rode solidly to third place while van der Haar passed the fading van der Poel who had to settle for fifth, more than two minutes behind the winner.

 

Result:

1. Wout van Aert 58.26

2. Sven Nys +0.18

3. Kevin Pauwels +1.04

4. Lars van der Haar +1.25

5. Mathieu van der Poel +2.01

6. Laurens Sweeck +2.05

7. Julien Taramarcaz +2.33

8. Tom Meeusen +2.35

9. Michael Vanthourenhout +2.42

10. Corne van Kessel +2.59

 

Overall standings:

1. Wout van Aert  2.56.47

2. Kevin Pauwels +2.19

3. Lars van der Haar +2.45

4. Tom Meeusen +6.26

5. Sven Nys +6.39

6. Julien Taramarcaz +6.57

7. Michael Vanthourenhout +7.04

8. Tim Merlier +7.28

9. Laurens Sweeck +7.39

10. Gianni Vermeersch +7.48

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