In a remarkable display of skill and strength, Joris Nieuwenhuis of Baloise Trek Lions clinched his first significant cyclocross victory at the Merksplas Superprestige race. The 27-year-old Dutch rider capitalised on the absence of several top contenders who were preparing for the World Cup race in Troyes, France, showcasing his power and bike-handling abilities in the challenging conditions. This victory marks Nieuwenhuis’s second win of the year, following his triumph at the Major Taylor Cross Cup in the USA.
Eli Iserbyt of Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal, who had won the first three Superprestige races of the season, struggled to keep pace early on and seemed to be conserving energy for the following day’s race. Despite this, Iserbyt managed a late surge, overtaking Niels Vanderputte in the final lap to secure second place, finishing 1:36 behind Nieuwenhuis.
Vanderputte, disappointed to miss out on a Superprestige win, managed to claim third place, 1:45 behind Nieuwenhuis, with Felipe Orts finishing a commendable fourth at 1:57. This was Orts’s best result in a Superprestige race to date.
Nieuwenhuis, acknowledging the significance of his victory, expressed his delight and relief, highlighting that his lower back issues did not hinder his performance. He pointed out that the Merksplas course’s technical and challenging sections suited his style. Nieuwenhuis emphasised the importance of the win, noting it boosts his confidence for future races.
The race was marked by wheel-deep mud and treacherous conditions, causing numerous crashes. Nieuwenhuis excelled in these conditions, extending his lead in the second half of the race. His ability to stay in the pedals on steep ramps gave him a significant advantage over competitors like Vanderputte and Iserbyt.
Post-race, Nieuwenhuis reflected on the moment he realised victory was his, stating that he started to ease off in the last two laps, already contemplating the next day’s race. He also touched on the impact of his lower back’s resilience on his performance.
With Nieuwenhuis’s victory, Baloise Trek Lions now boasts four riders who have won major series cyclocross races this season, including Thibau Nys, Lars Van der Haar, and Pim Ronhaar. The Merksplas Superprestige race outcome has certainly reshaped the dynamics of the cyclocross season, showcasing Nieuwenhuis’s potential against the sport’s top riders.
2023 Superprestige Merksplas Men result
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