In a riveting opening round of the Telenet Superprestige series, Eli Iserbyt of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal clinched an impressive victory in Overijse, amidst drama involving Thibau Nys from Baloise Trek Lions, who experienced a devastating crash in the final lap.
From the onset, Iserbyt and Nys were in a league of their own, commanding the race with remarkable tenacity. Despite an early setback from a crash in the opening lap, Nys made a remarkable comeback, positioning himself for victory with just a few turns left.
In a twist of fate, Nys, while attempting to overtake Iserbyt with a late surge, lost control and crashed, narrowly missing Iserbyt in the process. Displaying commendable resilience, Iserbyt navigated the chaotic scene, crossing the finish line first, followed closely by teammate Michael Vanthourenhout.
The misfortune relegated Nys to fourth place, as Lars van der Haar of team Baloise Trek Lions seized the opportunity to finish third.
Iserbyt's Lead Challenged
Iserbyt's victory was hard-fought, as he led the pack and established a substantial 30-second lead, following Nys’ initial crash.
The chase group, featuring Vanthourenhout, van der Haar, and Kevin Kuhn, worked tirelessly to close the gap. By the third lap, Nys, battered yet undeterred, was 25 seconds behind in 11th place. Remarkably, by the next lap, he had re-entered the chase group and was h*t on Iserbyt’s heels.
The race's midpoint saw Nys in full attack mode, thinning the chase group and putting Iserbyt’s lead in jeopardy. The sixth lap saw Iserbyt caught by the chase group, setting the stage for a nail-biting finale. Despite adverse weather conditions and a challenging course, the leading quartet remained locked together until the final lap.
Vanthourenhout attempted a breakaway, but was quickly reeled in by Nys, setting up a duel between Nys and Iserbyt. As the race climaxed, Nys pushed to the front, but misjudged the final descent, crashing out and paving the way for Iserbyt's victory.
Despite the setback, Nys remained optimistic, stating, “I had already won my race when I came back. I am delighted with that. I didn't expect to be this good today either. I felt terrible during the recon”. Cameron Mason of Cyclocross Reds rounded out the top five, showcasing the depth of talent in the field.
This gripping start to the Superprestige series has set the tone for an exhilarating season of cyclocross racing, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next round.