Laurens Sweeck (Crelan-Firstads) secured the win in the elite men’s Superprestige Niel – Jaarmarketcross after a battle with Lars van der Haar (Baloise Trek Lions).
Sweeck made his winning move through the sandpit on the last lap and crossed the line with three seconds to spare, forcing van der Haar to settle for second place.
Newly crowned European Champion Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) finished in third place at 35 seconds back.
It was his second win of the season after a victory at the World Cup Maasmechelen, and his eighth podium performance on the international cyclocross stage this year.
“They often tell me to keep calm in training. Maybe I should agree with them now,” said Sweeck, who had suffered symptoms of a head cold. “I was sick, but maybe it helped. I was at my limit. Otherwise, I won’t let Lars come back. I think I’m going to focus completely on the Superprestige and the World Cup now.”
A group of 11 riders emerged on the opening lap of what turned out to be a fast circuit in Niel. Eli Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout opened a gap, but both van der Haar and Sweeck soon reconnected with them out front.
Sweeck used the sandpit to gain on his rivals, but van der Haar was able to join him in what turned into a two-man battle for the win. The Belgian proved, yet again, strongest through the sand on the last lap, and van der Haar wasn’t strong enough to close the gap before the finish line.
“I knew that Laurens was very strong in the sandbox. It just didn’t work out today,” van der Haar said.
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