UPDATED: Van Aert, Cant successfully defend Belgian crowns

Reigning world champion Wout Van Aert became the Belgian champion for the second year in a row while Sanne Cant makes it eight straight.

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BRUSSELS (AFP) – Reigning world champion Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Charles) became the Belgian cyclo-cross champion for the second year in a row with a decisive win over rivals Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Napoleon Games) and Laurens Sweeck (ERA Real Estate-Circus) on a foggy Sunday in Ostend.

On the sand of the “Queen of the beaches,” on the edge of the North Sea, the 22-year-old Van Aert led the race from start to finish, after a solo escape from the start of the first lap.

“I didn’t expect to be alone in front halfway through the opening lap,” Van Aert told Sporza after the race. “I felt good but didn’t expect it to unfold this way.”

The win gives Van Aert, who currently leads the UCI World Cup series, his 14th win of the season and he becomes the first rider to retain his title since Sven Nys in 2010.

Top 10

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, 1:01:15
  • 2. Kevin PAUWELS, +0:49
  • 3. Laurens SWEECK, +0:50
  • 4. Tim MERLIER, +1:00
  • 5. Toon AERTS, +1:22
  • 6. Tom MEEUSEN, +1:26
  • 7. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, +1:34
  • 8. Jim AERNOUTS, +1:41
  • 9. Gianni VERMEERSCH, +1:49
  • 10. Klaas VANTORNOUT, +1:50

In ladies action, Sanne Cant picked up her eighth consecutive Belgian cyclo-cross title after a close victory over a surging Laura Verdonschot (Marlux-Napolean Games), xx, who claimed the under-23 women’s title. Ellen Van Loy (Young Telenet-Fidea) crossed the line more than a minute behind in third.

“It was a hard-fought battle,” Cant told Sporza. “It’s been one of the hardest editions I’ve ridden. It would’ve been massively disappointing if I would’ve lost.”

Top 10

  • 1. Sanne CANT, 40:59:00
  • 2. Laura VERDONSCHOT, +0:04
  • 3. Ellen VAN LOY, +1:20
  • 4. Jolien VERSCHUEREN, +1:35
  • 5. Loes SELS, +2:14
  • 6. Alicia FRANCK, +2:14
  • 7. Joyce VANDERBEKEN, +2:48
  • 8. Karen VERHESTRAETEN, +2:55
  • 9. Julie VAN DE VELDE, +4:15
  • 10. Aurelie VERMEIR, +6:16

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