Nieuwenhuis from start to finish in Merksplas
Joris Nieuwenhuis achieved his first ever win in a classification cross for the pros in Merksplas. In a thrilling mud fight, it was finally Eli Iserbyt who took second place. In the closing stages, he caught young Niels Vandeputte, who eventually finished third.
Mud, mud and more mud. The incessant rain had wreaked havoc in Merksplas. However, it did not prevent Joris Nieuwenhuis and Niels Vandeputte from flying off from the start. Soon they had opened a gap on the opposition. A gap they soon increased after some perfectly executed passages.
Someone who completely missed his start was last year’s winner in Merksplas: Laurens Sweeck. He was quickly facing a gap of more than 1 minute.
Eli Iserbyt did not seem to be having his best day either. From place 3 in the race, he was making some small mistakes. For Spaniard Felipe Orts, that was his chance to join the leader in the Telenet Superprestige classification. The two of them played leapfrog for a long time.
Joris Nieuwenhuis, for his part, had already rid himself of Niels Vandeputte on the second lap. Leading the race, he rode perfectly even lap times and seemed to be on his way to a nice problem-less success.
Laurens Sweeck made a huge effort and rode from a position he thought was lost into fifth place. An effort he was to pay for later in the race. He was no longer to feature in the scenario for the podium places.
In a tough race, some of the other riders also started to pay the toll for their previous efforts. Both Orts and Vandeputte were rolled up by Eli Iserbyt in the final phase. Iserbyt, the man who has ridden in so many finales, once again showed his fighting spirit. This gave him two more points for his general classification.
Nieuwenhuis was no longer threatened and completed a fantastic solo. After just over an hour of racing, he was able to throw his arms up in the air for the first time in a classification race. A minute and a half later, Eli Iserbyt came in second. Niels Vandeputte was satisfied with third spot.