Thibau Nys relinquished his World Cup lead following a seventh-place finish in Maasmechelen. Despite clinching a win in Waterloo, Nys fell during the final lap, thwarting his hopes for back-to-back victories. “From the start, things didn’t go my way,” Nys said, admitting that he struggled with the course and himself. He couldn’t pinpoint why he failed to give his best performance, but he acknowledged the loss of vital points for the overall standings. “It’s a shame, but I would have been happy with a podium, which was the best possible outcome today.”
Meanwhile, the new World Cup leader is Lars van der Haar, securing his position with 61 points, trailed by Eli Iserbyt with 60, and Nys at third with 59. Van der Haar expressed his elation, hailing the win as “very important.” He commended the improved condition of the Maasmechelen track, which faced criticism last year for loose stones, and his team for their robust support. Van der Haar said, “This victory makes me one of the favourites for the title.”
Eli Iserbyt, finishing second, gave credit where it was due: “Van der Haar is the rightful winner,” he said. Although he was not entirely pleased with his performance, marked by multiple minor errors, he is not committing to a full World Cup campaign just yet. Iserbyt observed that Van der Haar may not participate in all World Cup events, offering him a potential edge.
Laurens Sweeck, who finished third, cited bad luck as a major factor. Sweeck contended with two punctured tyres during the race. “If you still manage to finish third under those circumstances, you can’t say you’ve had a bad race,” he said. Sweeck mentioned that he had to continuously claw back his position, a tactic that was energy-consuming but eventually paid off.
Anticipating the European Championships on Sunday, all eyes are on Van der Haar and Nys as the prime contenders. Iserbyt suggested that their same-team affiliation could make for an intriguing race. “It will be a cross-border event,” he stated, adding that five to six riders are on his favourites list for the European Championship. Sweeck also looked forward to the European Championships, hinting that with better luck, he could potentially challenge Van der Haar for the win.
2023 Maasmechelen Men result
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Main photo credit: Cor Vos