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Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) rode away from world champion Sven Nys (Crelan-KDL) and Klaas Vantornout (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) to win the Hamme-Zogge stop of the Superprestige series on Sunday.
Albert got his gap with four laps remaining on the muddy, heavy course. Teammate Philipp Walsleben was slightly off the front of a strong lead group when Albert bridged up and then gave it some stick in a long, muddy section.
Vantornout and Nys followed, but they couldn’t match Albert’s speed. The BKCP rider kept piling time on them, lap after lap, taking an advantage of 28 seconds into bell lap.
Behind, Nys and Vantornout were dueling for second, a battle that Nys won by default when he and the Sunweb rider collided in a corner.
“Klaas made a mistake in a corner and he stopped directly, and I was in the same line. So I hit his bike, and that’s the reason why he had mechanical problems, I think,” Nys said afterward.
The mishap set Vantornout afoot, far from the pit. He jogged there to collect a spare bike, but fell out of contention; he would eventually finish sixth. Walsleben moved into a distant third place.
Ahead, Albert took no chances on the final go-round, running a couple of the slickest descents and some long muddy stretches as Nys rode grimly in pursuit.
He pitted one last time, checked over his shoulder and rode on to the victory. Nys hung on for second with Walsleben third.
Albert said he was “very happy” to win after a long dry spell.
“That’s normal, I think,” he added with a laugh.
“The last two or three weeks I didn’t train very hard because I trained a little bit too much two months ago, and I was a little bit exhausted. And the coach and everybody says, ‘Okay, now we’re going to do nothing, because he’s a little bit exhausted and tired.’ So I lay in the bed for two weeks, and every day I did one or two hours maximum, and now I have back the right feeling, the good feeling. And I’m very happy with the victory.”
Nys pronounced himself content with his race against “a really strong Niels Albert,” and said he hoped to ride better in the coming weeks.
“I’m happy with my condition,” he said. “There was a really strong Niels Albert today, but at the end of the race I’m happy with my feeling. And what I did last weekend gave me a lot of confidence for the next weeks.”
Nys retains the lead in the Superprestige series with 43 points. Albert is second overall with 40 and Vantornout third with 38.
In women’s racing, Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) took the victory ahead of Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP), who edged Sophie de Boer (Telenet) for second.
“I think this is my least favorite course of the whole season. I’m always a little nervous about riding it because the last three years I’ve never had a good ride here,” Harris said. “And I went back to England this week and had a really heavy week training, so I was kind of just expecting to come in third or fourth. Just to be fighting for the podium or something. So I was happy to be able to win today.”
The next round of the series will be November 17 in Gavere.
Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report.