Iron-strong Iserbyt prevails in Niel
In an exciting and gruelling race, Eli Iserbyt got the measure of Joris Nieuwenhuis. A notable third in Niel was Spaniard Felipe Orts. It is already the third win for Eli Iserbyt in the Telenet Superprestige season 2023-2024.
A field of more than 70 took to the mud in Niel. The expected names quickly posted themselves at the front. On this course, it was a case of not making mistakes. Which was something that did not work out for Thibau Nys and Lars van der Haar. They saw their fast start go up in smoke and would no longer feature in the story of the match. On the other hand, teammate Nieuwenhuis exceeded the wildest expectations. He and Eli Iserbyt got away as they entered the second lap.
Laurens Sweeck, winner last year in Niel, was the first pursuer in third place. In his wake followed the surprising Spaniard Felipe Orts. With his long legs, he handled the Belgian mud very well. Behind them, quite a few riders were battling it out for a place in the top 10. Lars van der Haar, third in the general classification at the time, seemed to make a bad turn. Consequently, he would not be taking any points home.
For lap after lap, Nieuwenhuis and Iserbyt stayed wheel to wheel. Occasionally one or the other was able to create some distance, but time after time they came back together. Behind them, we had the abandonments of European Champion Vanthourenhout and Emiel Verstrynge. It was an off day for both men. The pressure at the front was mounting as Laurens Sweeck appeared to have discovered his second wind. When he got to within six seconds, he suffered a puncture. A few slides in the final rounds would push him back into spot four at the finish of the race. However, Sweeck leapt up in the general classification as both Vanthourenhout and Van der Haar did not score any points.
Iserbyt saw his moment come on the last of the seven laps. In the lead, he started the difficult passage over the washboard. Flawlessly, he swung over and between the bumps. With a lead of a few seconds, Iserbyt opted to switch. He briefly hooked himself behind the saddle when jumping on, but managed to keep his lead. Nieuwenhuis did not switch entirely flawlessly either, whereupon the bird had flown.
Eli Iserbyt thus won at Niel for the second time in his career and secured the maximum number of points once again this season. Joris Nieuwenhuis and Felipe Orts were the happy second and third.