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Ronse/GP Mario De Clerq Thru Patrick Verhoest's Lens!

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'Twas a glorious day for watching cyclocross on Sunday. The sun was occasionally shining, the rain had softened things up to a nice, crossable level, and the stars were out on the Hotondberg, the highest point in Flanders (cough).  The GP Mario De Clerq is a lovely circuit of off-camber pastoral hellishness, inviting-looking until you see the world's greatest Crossers hanging on for dear life. And so, of course, our man Patrick Verhoest was there, camera in hand.

First up: the Elite women:

BP Ronse women's race

Nikki Harris leads the field over hill and dale.

Nikki Harris

Helen Wyman gives chase.

Helen Wyman

Sophie de Boer wound up taking a narrow, 7" win:

Sophie de Boer

Race stats:

1

29

DE BOER Sophie

0h47'14.0 '

2

2

WYMAN Helen

0h47'21.0 '

+7.0 '

3

27

VERSCHUEREN Jolien

0h47'30.0 '

+16.0 '

4

23

LOY Ellen

0h47'34.0 '

+20.0 '

5

38

ANDERSON Elie

0h48'31.0 '

+ 1'17.0

Keep those gaps in mind, the BPost Bank is the series which uses the running time as a "general classification" for series leadership.

OK, to the men's race. It was getting good and soft out there:

Ronse scene hotondberg

What a world champion's wheel looks like, at least pre-race:

Stybar bike

As for what the world champion looks like, fears that we would never know have been officially soothed.

Zdenek Stybar in person

Speaking of world champs, here's U23 arc-en-ciel Wout Van Aert taking a brief tumble over his bars. Nothing violent, thankfully, since the kid is already working his way back from injury.

Wout Van Aert crash

And speaking of world champs... who are old enough to be the dad of some of the other world champs in this field... Bartje Wellens!

Bart Wellens was here

Future world champ? We'll see, the field is crowded, but you can't fault Tom Meeusen for lack of intensity.

Mad Tom Meeusen

You can fault Kevin Pauwels for that, but despite his calm demeanor you'd be wrong. K-Pow took a quiet fourth on the day, by the width of a blade of grass.

Quiet day for Kevin Pauwels

His Klassy teammate was able to grab the final podium spot.

Klaas Vantornhout

Stybs ground out his season-opening appearance in his fancy colors. He took eighth on the day, 1.59 back.

Stybar grinding it out

To this man. Of course.

Sven Nys easily leads

It's never quite true that Sven Nys is unchallenged in a race, but it did seem like once he took over on about lap four, the deed was done. To blame was a race in the Netherlands the previous day, which Nys didn't quite take as seriously as some of the others. Anyway, Mathieu van der Poel certainly gave chase.

Mathieu van der Poel chases

But Nys was as perfect as ever.

Sven Nys the master

Even if van der Poel had better shoes.

Mathieu van der Poel shoes

Your podium:

Ronse podium

Kisses for Sven:

Sven Nys winnar

Race stats:

1

2

NYS Sven

1h00'58.0 '

2

9

Mathieu van der Poel

1h01'48.0 '

+50.0 '

3

4

Vantornhout Klaas

1h01'52.0 '

+54.0 '

4

5

Kevin Pauwels

1h02'02.0 '

+ 1'04.0 '

5

3

VAN DER ITS Lars

1h02'02.0 '

+ 1'04.0 '

6

7

MEEUSEN Tom

1h02'38.0 '

+ 1'40.0 '

7

8

Wout Van Aert

1h02'47.0 '

+ 1'49.0 '

8

1

STYBAR Zdenek

1h02'57.0 '

+ 1'59.0 '

9

13

OF AMERONGEN Thijs

1h02'59.0 '

+ 2'01.0 '

10

23

ADAMS Joeri

1h03'19.0 '

+ 2'21.0 '

Basically, Nys has the overall sewn up. But the stages will still be fun!

All photos by Patrick Verhoest