Laurens Sweeck’s mastery of the sand carried him to victory at Superprestige Jaarmarktcross in Niel ahead of his Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammate Eli Iserbyt, while Toon Aerts (Telenet Lions) took third.
That trio had opened a decisive lead over the rest by the midpoint of the race, and Aerts put up fierce resistance to the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal pair throughout. He was distanced by the Belgian and European champions on the penultimate lap, however, when he had to enter the pits for a bike change following a puncture.
Iserbyt was mindful that his teammate Sweeck was the stronger of the two in the sandpit and he attempted to forge clear before their final time through that obstacle. When the pair reached the sand together, Sweeck looked a likely winner, and so it proved, as he powered away to win by 5 seconds. Aerts came home at 24 seconds, while Lars van der Haar (Telenet Lions) was 4th, a further 20 seconds back.
Iserbyt’s second place in Niel was enough to move him a point clear of Aerts in the overall standings of the Superprestige, while Sweeck is in third place, 4 points down.
“Fighting until the last moment always gives you a bigger kick than knowing for a long time that you are going to win,” Sweeck told Sporza.
“I’m going home very satisfied. I knew that the sand section was a strong point of mine and that I could make a difference there.”
Sweeck began to make his pre-eminence on the sand known from the first lap, when he powered clear on that section, while the bulk of the riders in his wake were forced to dismount. Iserbyt was among those to struggle to navigate the sand early on, though he improved considerably on the section as the race drew on.
The newly-crowned European champion Iserbyt was 15 seconds down on Sweeck after the first lap but he soon moved up through the field. After three laps, he was with teammate Michael Vanthourenhout and Aerts in a group 10 seconds down on Sweeck.
One lap later, Iserbyt and Aerts had rid themselves of their company and moved to within 5 seconds of Sweeck. They bridged across to the leader at the midway point, when Sweeck entered the pits to change his bike.
Although Vanthourenhout stayed within touching distance for another lap or so, it already seemed clear that the winner would come from the front three. Aerts was mindful of the numerical superiority of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal and wary of Sweeck’s skill on the sand, making several attempts to shake off his companions before that section.
The three leaders were still together on the penultimate lap, where Iserbyt finally seemed to hit his stride. The European champion’s acceleration at the start of the lap stretched out the front group and the complexion of the race changed soon afterwards, when Aerts was forced to the pits for a bike change. Iserbyt and Sweeck forged clear and would not be recaptured.
Iserbyt led through the bell but he was unable to open a gap on Sweeck, who hit the front as they approached the sand for the final time. He remained on his bike throughout the section, while Iserbyt was forced to run. The winning gap was formed, and Sweeck came home to win by 5 seconds.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||1:03:13|
|2||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:05|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Lions 00:00:24|
|4||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Lions||0:00:44|
|5||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert||0:00:46|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:53|
|7||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert||0:00:58|
|8||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:01:12|
|9||Daan Soete (Bel)||0:01:24|
|10||Niels Vandeputte (Bel)||0:01:29|